31 May 2016
I am writing to you following my communication to you last week and further engagements that I have had with staff and union representatives around the proposed Incentivised Early Retirement and Voluntary Separation offers to staff.
I would like to report on a few key outcomes of those engagements.
A number of staff reported concern that the tone of the communication suggested that staff were not valued by the institution. This was certainly not the intention. But individuals do regularly come and go as a natural part of their career development and some would choose to retire early if there were minimal losses of income. Our staff are the life blood of the University and the whole purpose of this voluntary separation option is to avoid or minimise involuntary retrenchments. Our assumption is that with an incentive, there are quite likely to be staff who would like to leave, either because they would like to retire early, or because they want to move on for other reasons, and this will give us the breathing space on savings that we need.
A more serious concern, perhaps, is that some staff who would not otherwise want to leave the University may feel financially coerced into applying for voluntary separation because they fear that their posts will be made redundant at a later stage (after August 2016) and they will then only receive the standard retrenchment package. We had no intention of putting staff in this position. Only those who would wish to leave anyway should be considering the voluntary package.
To reinforce this, and taking into account recent discussions with unions and some staff, the University has decided that if staff members do not apply for a package in the initial period (by 30 June 2016) but later this year are faced with a proposal to make their positions redundant as a result of the cost savings initiative, they will be given a further opportunity at that stage to apply for the same voluntary packages. This second opportunity will, however, not be available if no further post savings have to be made in your particular unit at that stage. I should also emphasize that even at the first stage, i.e. applications received by June 30, applications will only be approved if they will generate long term savings (i.e. the post will not have to be replaced) and if the loss of the post will not compromise the strategic direction of the unit.
I also wish to bring your attention to one other change we have made in response to feedback, namely to the early retirement offer. Previously we indicated that the incentivised early retirement offer was available to those above 55 and not yet 63 at 31 December 2016. We have now extended this to those not yet 64 at 31 December 2016, but with a reduced incentive package.
As I indicated in my earlier communication, all qualifying staff are entitled to apply for Incentivised Early Retirement or Voluntary Separation offers, but the decision to accept an application will be made by the Executive (VC and DVCs) on the recommendation of the unit head and with the approval of the Remuneration Committee.
In order to support staff in making decisions around whether they would like to take Incentivised Early Retirement or Voluntary Separation offers, Human Resources have put information online that provides information on the packages; a process flow explaining how the process will work; a response to some Frequently Asked Questions; and a form for requesting one of the offers.
HR have also set up a number of information sessions for staff who may have questions or concerns about the packages. The dates and times are outlined below:
Please RSVP to UCTRFfirstname.lastname@example.org for any of the above meetings.
I understand that a process like this can result in anxiety for staff and I would like to advise that additional counselling support is being made available through HR. Please contact your HR practitioner who can assist you in arranging support.
Dr Max Price
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