Bumping Rights

Definition

The term bumping rights refers to a contractual privilege granted to a more senior employee, allowing them to replace a less senior employee.  Bumping rights are typically exercised when a reduction in workforce results in the elimination of the more senior employee's job.

Explanation

Bumping rights are a contractually agreed to provision appearing in a labor union's collective bargaining agreement.  This provision allows a more senior employee to replace a less senior employee if there is a reduction in workforce and the more senior employee is qualified to hold that position.

The exact rules that grant an employee bumping rights will vary with each agreement, and can be quite complex.  Bumping oftentimes results in a domino or cascading effect, which means a relatively small number of eliminated positions can result in a fairly large pool of employees exercising their right to bump less senior employees.

The exact process for determining seniority may also differ between and among full time, part-time, and even temporary employees.  Seniority may only apply at a specific location, or it may apply across a number of field locations.  To maintain the workforce's productivity, bumping provisions normally state a more senior employee can only bump a less senior employee if they are also "qualified" to work that position.

Finally, it's important for employees to understand the implications of bumping.  Refusing to exercise this right may prohibit an employee from collecting unemployment benefits.

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