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Layoffs and SROA Frequently Asked Questions

​Hiring preferences for surplus employees

What do surplus and SROA mean?

Surplus: A surplus employee is one who is in jeopardy of being laid off or demoted in lieu of layoff.

SROA (State Restriction of Appointments): Each surplus employee automatically has SROA status. SROA status means the employee's name has been placed on SROA hiring certification lists for the employee's current class and current work location.

  • The layoff department processes SROA status on behalf of the employee effective the same date the employee receives a surplus certification letter.
  • Hiring departments use SROA certification lists to contact eligible employees for interviews when filling vacant positions.

What's the difference between being designated surplus and being on an SROA list?

Both designations - surplus and SROA - entitle the employee to equal hiring preference. The only difference is:

  • SROA - departments filling a vacancy in an SROA employee's current class and location will use the SROA list to notify employees of the vacancy
  • Surplus - employees can use surplus status to seek out vacancies in any location or class the employee is qualified for and can transfer into

What should a department do if it has a vacancy to fill and is not in layoff mode?

The hiring department should:

  • Circulate job opportunity bulletins among departments in layoff mode.
  • Post vacancies on SPB's vacant positions database (VPOS).
  • Advertise jobs for a minimum of
    • 5 days for servicewide classes or
    • 10 days for department-specific classes.
  • Verify status of employees claiming to be surplus.

​See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on hiring.

Does a department have to hire an SROA employee before considering an employee with surplus status?

No. Surplus and SROA list employees have the exact same rights to be hired. The hiring supervisor can hire an employee with either status.

The only distinction is that employees on SROA lists receive contact letters from hiring departments and surplus employees do not.

How does a hiring department verify that an employee actually has surplus/SROA status?

All surplus/SROA employees receive letters from their departments for them to show prospective hiring departments. Letters should include the employee's name, verification of surplus and SROA status, current status class, and layoff date. If an employee has no letter, the hiring department should contact the layoff department to verify status.

In addition, SROA list eligibility serves as verification of surplus status.

CalHR also publishes the surplus listing by class | surplus listing by class - Text Only (RTF) and by department | by department - Text Only (RTF).

What does "Super SROA" refer to?

Two bargaining units (Units 2 and 9) have special SROA provisions negotiated in their contracts several years ago.

Hiring departments filling vacancies in classes in these two units must notify CalHR's Personnel Services Branch and the the layoff coordinators in the departments laying off employees in these units. Hiring departments need to provide the class titles, salaries, number, and location of vacancies.

Hiring departments filling vacancies in a Unit 2 or 9 class must fill these vacancies with qualified "Super SROA" employees. To qualify, employees must meet the minimum qualifications, have eligibility for the salary level of the vacancy, and be in the same geographic area and bargaining unit. "Same geographic area" means any county that touches the county in which the vacancy exists. The contracts provide no exemptions.

See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on Super SROA, especially the section on hiring employees in Bargaining Units 2 and 9.

Is a surplus employee eligible for reimbursement if the employee must travel to an interview?

No. No statute or regulation provides for such reimbursement.

Is a surplus employee eligible for relocation reimbursement if required to relocate to accept a new job?

Only if the employee has received an official layoff notice at the time of hire to the new job (Government Code 19841). The hiring department would pay for this reimbursement.

Process for designating surplus/SROA list employees

How is an employee placed on an SROA list?

The personnel office in a department facing layoffs processes an SROA Scantron Form for SROA employees. The SROA Scantron forms are availa​ble for order from DGS in hard copy form only. CalHR and the department will have determined which employees are surplus and meet the SROA list criteria. The department sends the form to CalHR, which places the employees on SROA certification lists.

See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on completing Scantron forms for employees.

How many SROA lists may an employee's name be placed on?

Only one, normally for the current class in which the employee has permanent status. However, if that class exists only at the employee's layoff department, the department should, if possible, place the employee on an SROA list for an appropriate alternative class. This improves the employee's chances of filling a vacancy at other departments with job openings. CalHR's department analysts can assist departments in selecting an appropriate alternative class.

See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on layoff departments with department-specific classes.

Is every surplus employee placed on an SROA list for the employee's current class?

Normally, the layoff department puts employees' names on the SROA list for their classes the same day the department notifies the employees they have surplus status.

However, layoff departments should place employees in department-specific classes on the SROA list for an appropriate alternate class, if one exists, in which there are actual employment opportunities.

See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on layoff departments with department-specific classes.

Can a layoff department place an employee on a limited-term appointment on the SROA list for that class?

No. The employee would be placed on the SROA list either for the class from which the employee will be laid off, or for an appropriate SROA class designated by the layoff department.

How is an appropriate SROA class determined?

It must be a class that has a salary exactly the same as or lower than the layoff class; it must have essentially the same class concept; and it must be a class in which actual employment opportunities exist.

See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on layoff departments with department-specific classes.

Can another department's department-specific class be used as an appropriate SROA class?

Yes, but the other department must agree to its use. CalHR can assist in resolving differences.

Can an employee appeal the determination of an appropriate SROA class and suggest a different class?

Employees should discuss this with their personnel office. CalHR can help personnel offices select a class and solve disputes.

What does the 120 day period of SROA status refer to? When does the 120-day period begin?

The 120 day requirement refers to how long the SROA program covers a surplus/SROA employee.

The 120 day period begins when SPB places the employee's name on SROA eligible certification lists and the layoff department notifies the employee of surplus/SROA status.

If an employee chooses not to be on an SROA list, can the employee opt out?

Yes. SROA is voluntary. Employees can ask their personnel offices to remove their names from SROA certification lists.

Are names sorted on SROA lists in seniority order?

No. Names on SROA lists appear in random order. Anyone on the employment list with SROA status may be hired regardless of relative seniority.

Must a hiring department keep checking for new SROA names on employment lists after ordering a certification?


Do hiring departments need to contact SROA list employees in writing?

The initial contact may be by phone, but the department must follow up in writing.

Can a department fill a position with a non-surplus or non-SROA list candidate?

Yes, if

  • no reemployment list exists for the class,
  • the SROA list has been cleared, and
  • no surplus employees express interest.

A department may also fill a position with a non-surplus or non-SROA candidate if

  • CalHR grants an exemption or
  • the department meets one of the exemption criteria

See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on exemptions.

Does a department have to hire a surplus employee if it would be a promotion?

No. Surplus status does not give an employee an advantage when it comes to promoting.

Does a department hiring for a permanent, full-time position need to consider a surplus status part-time or permanent intermittent employee?

Only if the employee has eligibility for a permanent, full-time position.

Can a hiring department require a surplus employee to serve a new probationary period?

Yes, unless the appointment is to a class in which the employee already served a probationary period under the same department.

See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on probationary periods.

Criteria for terminating surplus/SROA status

Can a surplus employee turn down a job offer and retain surplus status?

The SROA program helps employees in jeopardy of being laid off find jobs. If an employee turns down a job offer, CalHR will investigate to determine if the employee had a valid reason to turn down the offer. If not, the employee may lose surplus/SROA status.

Example of a valid reason for turning down a job offer: the employee would experience a hardship by accepting it.

An employee will not lose surplus/SROA status if the employee doesn't respond to an inquiry from a potential hiring department.

When a surplus/SROA employee finds a new job, does the employee keep surplus/SROA status?

If an employee finds a new job, his or her surplus/SROA status ends.

Does an employee's SROA list eligibility end after 120 days, even if the department's layoff is still in progress and the employee hasn't found another job?

Yes. However, CalHR can extend the employee's surplus/SROA status for 120 more days (maximum).

SROA Exemptions

If a surplus employee applies for a position in a class other than the class he or she currently has permanent or probationary status in, does a department have to consider him or her for employment?

Yes. However, if the hiring department feels the employee does not possess the qualifications necessary for the class in question, it must seek an exemption from CalHR's Personnel Services Branch.

Previously, CalHR delegated this determination to departments, but the delegation has been rescinded.

See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on exemptions.

Are any SROA exemption decisions delegated to departments?

Yes, the delegated automatic exemptions listed under Other Special Exemptions. Submit all other exemption requests to CalHR's Personnel Services Branch.

See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on exemptions, especially the section on other special exemptions.

How the SROA program is administered

How does CalHR administer the SROA program?

CalHR's responsibilities are to:

  • develop and maintain rules, policies and procedures
  • approve the designation of classes and employees on surplus/SROA status
  • make decisions on surplus status exemption requests
  • ensure compliance with SROA program rules, policies, and procedures
  • implement corrective actions as appropriate
  • process the SROA Scantron forms
  • place employees on employment lists with SROA designation
  • issue SROA employment lists
  • remove names from SROA lists when appropriate
  • answer inquiries regarding certification of SROA employees

See the SROA manual | SROA manual - Text Only (RTF) section on CalHR's role as SROA administrator.

How can a department in layoff mode help its surplus employees find new jobs?

  • Brief all surplus employees, preferably in writing, of their surplus/SROA list rights.
  • Complete the Scantron forms accurately and deliver them to CalHR.
  • Make resources such as CalHR's web pages on SROA | SROA - Text Only (RTF) and the layoff process available.
  • Provide surplus employees with individual letters of introduction that they may present to hiring departments.
  • Conduct initial investigations of any alleged violations of SROA law, rules, or procedures and refer substantiated allegations to CalHR.
  • Maintain a library of job announcements.
  • Provide access to CalHR's vacant positions database system (VPOS).

Areas of layoff defined

What are the possible "area of layoff" types?

  • Statewide
  • Geographic
  • Organizational or functional

The first two are common, but the "organizational or functional" type is rarely used. It's appropriate when a department has hired employees for a specific project with a limited duration with the understanding their employment would end when the project was completed.

When is the area of layoff "statewide"?

When any of these are true:

  • the department conducted statewide recruitment, testing, and hiring for the layoff class, or
  • employees typically change residence to accept appointment to the layoff class, or
  • employees in the layoff class typically rotate between positions in one geographic area and another.

The structure of the exam plan alone doesn't determine whether the area of layoff is statewide.

For example, to save money, a department tests on a statewide basis. Applicants must indicate which specific area they will accept employment in. In this case, the area of layoff for the layoff class would be geographic, not statewide.

Layoffs of higher-level managerial classes are normally statewide.

When is the area of layoff "geographic"?

When both of these are true:

  • the department conducted local recruitment, testing, and hiring for the layoff class, and
  • employees in the layoff class normally stay in the original location where they were hired.

Layoffs of working-level classes and first-level supervisors are normally geographic.

It sounds like the area of layoff is determined by class. Does this mean a department may have more than one area of layoff?


Is there more than one type of geographic area of layoff?

Yes. Geographic areas of layoff can be by:

  • county (most common)
  • facility
  • region

Leave balances

If a surplus employee in the Annual Leave Program chooses to retire in lieu of layoff, can the employee run the annual leave balance past the effective date of the layoff?

No. Employee may run out annual leave only up to the date of layoff. The department must issue a lump sum payment for any remaining balance as part of the employee's final compensation.

However, the employee may transfer all or a portion of the leave payment to a 401(k) or 457 account with the Savings Plus Program to avoid or reduce tax liability.

Is vacation handled in the same as annual leave?


What happens to an employee's unused sick leave when the employee is laid off?

If the employee is reemployed within the life of the reemployment list, the employee keeps the previously earned sick leave. Also, the employee's prior service counts for purposes of calculating State service, sick leave, and vacation leave.

Examples of demotional patterns

What are "primary" and "secondary" demotional patterns?

A "primary" demotional pattern consists of lower-level classes in the same series as the layoff class.

A "secondary" demotional pattern consists of lower-level classes that:

  • have knowledge and abilities so similar to those of the layoff class that the employee could perform the duties in a six-month period,
  • normally provides a source of recruitment for the layoff class, or has an entry-level class in common with the layoff class,
  • does not require a license, certificate, or special education not required for the layoff class, and
  • will not drastically impact the operations of the layoff department by eliminating all the trained employees in a key program.

I'm a Staff Services Manager I. What are my rights to demote to another position in lieu of layoff?

Your "primary" demotional path would be:

  • Associate-level staff services analyst classes (Personnel, Budget, Governmental Program) and then
  • Staff Services Analyst.

Normally, "secondary" demotional paths don't apply to Staff Services classes, but if your department identifies such a path, you'd have the right to choose it.

Also, if you previously held a permanent or probationary appointment to a class within transfer range of - or at a lower salary than - the class from which you're being laid off, and this class is used by your department in your area of layoff, you'd have the right to demote to that class.

I'm an Associate Budget Analyst. I'm senior to an Associate Governmental Program Analyst. Can I "bump" that person in lieu of taking a layoff?

No. You can't bump someone in a class with the same maximum salary. The law governing demotional rights requires that you demote to a class with a lower maximum salary rate.

However, if you once held a permanent or probationary appointment in the AGPA class, and that class is used by your department in your area of layoff, you would have personal demotional rights to AGPA and could "bump" an AGPA. You'd need to have the required seniority.

Other Associate Budget Analysts without personal demotional rights could not do so.

I'm an Associate Personnel Analyst, but I held a permanent appointment five years ago as an Associate Space Planner, which is at a higher pay level than the Associate Personnel Analyst. Can I bump a less senior Associate Space Planner in lieu of layoff?

The law defining personal demotional rights states that a demotion may be to any class in which an employee held a permanent or probationary appointment and whose salary is within transfer range of, or lower than, the salary of the layoff class. If these criteria are met, and your department uses the Associate Space Planner class in your area of layoff, you have a mandatory right to demote to that class.

Examples of employees who return to layoff departments


One of our surplus employees got a job in another department but was rejected on probation. Do we need to re-hire him?

Yes. If you department has no vacancies, and the effective date of the layoff has not yet been reached, your department would designate the employee as surplus again, allowing the employee to find a job with another department.

However, if the employee is the least senior and you've already issued 30-day layoff notices to your other employees, you should also issue a 30-day notice to this employee.


  • the effective date of the layoff has passed and
  • there are no vacancies and
  • the employee is the least senior,

you should provide 30-day layoff notice and lay off the employee after the 30-day period.

If the employee is not the least senior, bumping may occur.

Our department is being abolished. Our functions will not be transferred to any other department. One of our employees is on a limited-term appointment in another department. The rules pertaining to limited-term appointments only provide for cancellation by the employee or the "host" department. When this employee's limited-term expires, the employee will have nowhere to return to. What are our options?

Issue a layoff notice. Tell the employee that, because the department and its functions will no longer exist, the employee will have no return rights. If the employee doesn't find a permanent appointment before the limited-term expires, the employee will be laid off when the limited-term appointment terminates.

We have an employee on a T&D assignment to another department. We are about to have a layoff in the employee's class. How will this layoff affect the employee?

Calculate the employee's seniority score. If the employee's seniority is high enough to continue in the class of layoff, the T&D assignment can continue. If not, and the employee would be laid off, you should terminate the T&D assignment and include the employee in the layoff process. If the employee would be demoted in lieu of layoff, re-evaluate whether the T&D assignment is still appropriate after the demotion.

See also

  Updated: 3/22/2022
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