Printed on: February 08, 2013

110 volunteer to leave INL jobs

By Alex Stuckey

More than 100 Idaho National Laboratory employees volunteered to leave their jobs as part of Battelle Energy Alliance's most recent attempt to cope with budget constraints.

The contractor in charge of INL announced in December it would lay off at least 300 employees, citing budget concerns, increased daily costs and a need to remain competitive.

Most of the 110 volunteers -- who had to apply -- served their last day as INL employees Thursday, spokeswoman Amy Lientz said.

"A lot of these folks are retiring," Lientz said. "They've given a lot of their careers to INL ... but for many, they are taking on a new adventure in their life."

The volunteers will receive severance pay for up to 16 weeks, based on their length of service and seniority. They also will receive medical benefits through the Department of Energy's Dislocated Workers Program. The Idaho Department of Labor will provide assistance for job transitions, such as rsum writing.

Those who are involuntarily laid off will receive the benefits listed above, as well as an additional two weeks' pay.

Now Battelle must determine the employees to be laid off in addition to the volunteers.

The contractor could cut up to 450 jobs but will see how its budget fares after cutting about 300.

"(The 450 jobs) is our cap, (but) that doesn't mean we'll get to that level," Lientz said. "There (are) a lot of unknowns right now."

There is no deadline for when additional employees will be asked to leave, Lientz said.

"We have to look at the skill sets (we need) and what the budget is," she said.

She could not estimate how long the analysis and approval process for the layoffs would take.

Last year, Battelle eliminated about 160 jobs, not including people who left the lab and were not replaced.