COVID-19 Hiring Freeze FAQ

(updated 6/25/20)

To help save jobs in light of the financial impacts of COVID-19, the campus is considering a number of proactive, budget-conserving actions. One such action is instituting a campus-wide hiring freeze effective April 1, 2020. It is our hope that by taking this measure now, we will be in a stronger position to confront future financial challenges related to COVID-19.  

As detailed below, we are therefore asking that you do not initiate any new searches and review those that have already begun. The campus will be making very limited exceptions to the hiring freeze, making only select hires that protect against a significant business disruption and/or a significant health, safety, or compliance risk. In addition, “internal UC Berkeley only” recruitments will be allowed to proceed to support continued employee mobility during this period of time.

How does the hiring freeze work?

Consistent with our budget-saving objectives, the hiring freeze means that, except for the limited exclusions identified below, no new positions may be posted and no offers may be made for existing positions or positions that are currently posted without an exception approved by the Finance Committee. Review and approval is also required to move staff from a grant fund to another campus funding source.  

The following are excluded from the hiring freeze:

Staff:

  • University Health Services staff

  • Custodial staff

  • Skilled trades staff

  • UCPD sworn staff and dispatchers

  • Positions to be filled pursuant to an “internal UC Berkeley only” recruitment, which must be approved by People & Culture in accordance with the standard process.

  • Seasonal (Limited 900 hour) admissions reader positions. (revised 5/7/20)

Student Employees:

  • Student staff titles

  • Graduate student instructors, readers, and tutors: new positions may be posted and filled as dictated by educational needs; units are encouraged to be mindful of the precariousness of the budget in making appointments.

  • Graduate student researchers (GSRs): new positions may be posted and filled as budget allows. Please check with funding sources before making appointments to ensure that funding for salary, CBR and associated fee remissions will be available, and that fund-specific requirements are met. Central campus funds will not be available to cover shortfalls. 

  • Undergraduate and Graduate student instructors, readers, and tutors: new positions may be posted and filled as dictated by educational needs; units are encouraged to be mindful of the precariousness of the budget in making appointments. (revised 5/7/20)

Academic Titles: 

  • Senate faculty on 19900 funds (ladder-rank and those in the LSOE series): offers already extended will be honored; searches not yet completed may receive additional scrutiny.

  • After review by the Finance Committee, lecturer appointments and reappointments are exempt from the hiring freeze. (revised 5/21/20)

  • All academic recalls for 43% or less appointments/reappointments. (revised 5/7/20)

Extramural-funded Positions

  • New positions paid entirely on contract and grant funds, in any title, are exempt from the hiring freeze, provided that the Principal Investigator (PI) can confirm that:
  1. the new hire can successfully perform the duties of their role (either remotely or in person) as of the start date. All in-person work must be able to be done in compliance with the current policy for reduced on-campus building access https://vcresearch.berkeley.edu/covid19/research-recovery or with a VCR-approved Critical on-Campus Research Continuty Request  AND
  2. if some of the work will be performed remotely, the funding sponsor allows remote work and/or paid leave in lieu of remote work.

Start dates for new hires need to be postponed until the conditions above are met.  Questions regarding the process for requesting access to campus buildings can be addressed to vcr@berkeley.edu.  PIs are responsible for covering the costs of their research team and should not expect campus funds to cover shortfalls for disallowed expenses.  

PIs should check the SPO COVID-19 guidance webpage to review current sponsoring agency requirements with respect to remote work. If the agency guidance is unclear, they should contact their program officer for direction. (revised 6/25/20)

  • Positions funded by gifts or endowments where the funds are restricted to only allow pay for the specified position(s), and the work can be conducted remotely.

  • Positions funded by non-contract and grant external sources (e.g., funds directly from UCOP, state agencies, etc.) where the funding would be lost/go unused if a position is not hired/renewed. (revised 5/7/20)
  • For positions with other types of external funding sources, the hiring manager should consult with Heather Archer, Assistant Vice Provost, or Eugene Whitlock, Chief People & Culture Officer, as appropriate.

Summer Sessions & University Extension 

  • Summer-only appointments to facilitate, deliver, and support instruction and programs during Summer Sessions are excluded.

  • Appointments exclusively to develop, facilitate, deliver, and support instruction and programs offered by Extension are excluded.

Faculty-Designated Fund (CF2) Positions (revised 5/7/20) 

Positions (academic & staff) fully funded by one, or a combination of, faculty-designated funds (i.e., those designated to the faculty member’s ChartField2 “CF2”). 

Faculty-designated funds include:

  • Faculty start-up funds

  • Faculty retention funds

  • Research gifts
  • Extramural contracts & grants (see also extramural-funded positions)

  • Other faculty-designated funding (e.g., endowed chairs, FSREP savings, research stipends, BEAR program funds)

Can I request an exception to the hiring freeze?

Yes. We recognize that there may be some circumstances where an essential hire must be made. The Hiring Freeze will be overseen by the Finance Committee (the Chancellor, the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, the Chief Financial Officer, and the Vice Chancellor for Administration) and exceptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis, when it can be demonstrated that:

  1. Not filling the position would result in significant business disruption and/or a significant compliance risk;

  2. The role is mission-critical and/or essential to business operations; and

  3. No qualified current staff is available to take on additional duties on an interim basis.

What is the process to request an exception to the hiring freeze?

Hiring freeze exception requests are submitted and reviewed through this processRequests for exception to the Hiring Freeze can only be submitted by the following divisional leaders: Associate Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, Associate/Vice Provosts, and Deans.  Each of these divisional leaders will have the latitude to create a process for reviewing and approving all exception requests prior to submission to the Finance Committee for final approval. Exception requests will be considered on a weekly basis by the Finance Committee. Divisional leaders who have questions about the process should email evcp@berkeley.edu.

How quickly will decisions be made by the Finance Committee?

The Finance Committee will meet weekly. In order to ensure timely consideration of your request, you should submit it through your leadership process as soon as possible.

What about active hiring processes?

All open positions currently in recruitment that do not have an offer extended or accepted are subject to review. For searches with interviews previously scheduled to take place prior to April 15, interviews can continue while an exception is being requested. However, there is no guarantee that an exception will be granted by the Finance Committee. 

What if an offer has already been extended?

All unconditional offers already extended to candidates that are not conditioned on resolution of the current COVID-19 situation will be honored and if the candidate accepts, the candidate will be hired.  Offers may not be rescinded, however, start dates can be negotiated.

I have work that needs to be done, but it does not qualify for an exception. What are my options?

If you have a vacant position, you can conduct an “internal UC Berkeley only” recruitment if you obtain approval from People & Culture through the standard process. You can also assign duties to a current staff employee on an interim basis and provide a stipend.

Does this Hiring Freeze apply to renewals/extensions of contract and limited appointments?

Yes. All renewals and extensions requested on April 1, 2020 or later must go through the exceptions process. Renewals and extensions requested prior to April 1, 2020 will be processed in accordance with standard procedures.

 


If you do not see a specific exemption that would apply to your situation, you should assume that you need to request an exception.

If you need additional clarification, please contact Heather Archer (archer@berkeley.edu) for Academic Titles or Eugene Whitlock (ewhitlock@berkeley.edu) for Staff Titles.