Austerity measures and costs savings

19 May 2016 | Story by Newsroom
From the VC's Desk

19 May 2016

Dear colleagues,

Austerity Measures and Costs Savings

I am writing to update you on the process currently being followed within faculties and PASS departments towards achieving the savings targets requested of them. This letter deals with the timing of that process and its potential implications for academic and PASS staff.

We have engaged unions on an approach to incentivised early retirement and incentivised voluntary separation, and have now determined the packages that will apply and the time period during which staff may apply for them. We will shortly provide further information, including responses to issues raised by unions and other stakeholders, and will give details of the Human Resources support that will be available to staff who would like assistance in considering their options.

We do not yet know whether it will be possible to achieve all required savings through natural attrition and voluntary processes. If it becomes necessary at a later stage to restructure to achieve efficiency and meaningful savings, we will then follow due HR process in consultation with the unions. Any such process will take place only after we have assessed the savings plans of unit heads to achieve their target savings, which is expected to be by 15 August 2016. (Unit heads comprise deans, the director of the GSB, executive directors, and directors in PASS units where there are no executive directors).

We will be placing the austerity process as a standing item on the agenda of monthly consultative meetings with the respective unions to ensure that they, as the recognised representatives of staff, continue to be engaged on an ongoing basis on the measures being taken to achieve the required cost savings.

We have set a defined period within which staff may apply for incentivised early retirement or voluntary separation. The conditions that will apply, including the qualifying criteria and structure of the packages, are available on the website.

The deadline for applications is 30 June 2016

While all qualifying staff are entitled to apply for separation on these conditions, the decision to accept an application will be made by the Executive (VC and DVCs) on the recommendation of the unit head and with approval of the Remuneration Committee. The decision whether or not to accept an application will be made on the basis of operational considerations.

We recognise that some staff may find it difficult to make a decision whether or not to apply for an incentivised voluntary separation if they do not have an idea of the vision of the unit head for their area. For that reason, unit heads may have frank discussions when approached by members of staff about whether they should consider applying for voluntary separation, or about whether an application by them is likely to be supported. Unit heads may also, in appropriate circumstances, solicit interest in or invite applications for incentivised early retirement or voluntary separation if this will support the initiative to achieve the required cost savings.

The timeframe within which unit heads are required to identify and propose potential cost savings, including any incentivised voluntary separations, is 5 August 2016. If sufficient savings cannot be achieved in this way, then unit heads may make specific restructuring proposals to meet savings targets. To make sure that the plans of unit heads take into account the views of staff in the faculty or department, they will, following established practice, engage informally with staff and their representatives before making any formal restructuring proposal.

Any proposals of this kind, if necessary, will follow HR processes, including consultation with unions and affected staff after 15 August 2016, and any staff member affected will be given proper notice of any formal proposal to restructure, if necessary, and a formal consultation process will then be followed.

We will continue to engage with staff and unions on an ongoing basis. We ask all of you to keep working with us to secure the long term financial sustainability of the university.

Sincerely

Dr Max Price
Vice-Chancellor


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