CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- State court employees can consider leaving voluntarily with a severance package now, or risk losing their jobs later involuntarily and possibly without a payout.
Those options are spelled out in a letter from the Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh and cite the state's $3.7 billion budget deficit as the reason why.
The options give interested employees a short amount of time to make up their minds.
Friday was the deadline for employees to inquire what their severance amount would be.
February 8 is the deadline to sign up for it, unless extensions are granted.
Court officials say they got the letter two days ago.
If employees leave, severance could include up to eight months of pay, 240 hours of vacation and a year of employee-only health care.
The letter from the Administrative Office of the Courts tells employees that if they don’t take a severance package, they could be taking a chance.
"If we wait until later this fiscal year or the next, no such assurance of these payments can be made. This would put us in the position of having to increase the numbers of involuntary separations just to pay for the number of positions required to meet the cuts imposed upon us, or the possibly worse scenario: layoffs without funds to pay severance packages at all."
The letter asks judges, clerks and district attorneys to ask their staffs.
"Employees have to basically decide whether they think that there is going to be a voluntary reduction in force and whether their position is likely to be targeted for elimination," said Mecklenburg County Trial Court Administrator Todd Nuccio.
If people take severance packages, Nuccio says the positions will be eliminated.
"When you lose positions in an operation that is already operating at the bare minimum, you are going to reduce hours, you are going to reduce services or something between those. So it's going to be felt across the board," Nuccio said.
Nuccio says about five employees in trial court administration are checking into what their severance amounts would be.
The DA's office doesn't have a number, but expects it to be fewer than ten.
The DA's office has asked for an extension for the Feb. 8 reduction in force application deadline and Friday's amount deadline since it's happening so fast.
If accepted, payouts will happen at the end of March.