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Voluntary Redundancy Scheme: Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions

Why is the University offering a voluntary redundancy scheme?

The intention of the scheme, on this occasion, is to generate savings that may off  set some of the proposed cost-saving measures set out in the University’s final proposal including possible pay-cuts and a three-year pay freeze. As you will be aware these are challenging times financially, and the impact of COVID-19 and the future possibility of increasing pension scheme contribution rates for some colleagues has added considerably to these concerns. 

The scheme will offer colleagues the opportunity to apply to leave the University on an agreed date in exchange for an enhanced redundancy payment.

When does the scheme open and close?

The opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy will open on Wednesday 28 October 2020 and close on Friday 20 November 2020. There will be a further week for all applications to be signed and returned. The final deadline for applications to be received will be 17:00 on Friday 27 November 2020.

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What are the details of the scheme?

The voluntary redundancy payment will be calculated as a sum equivalent to the statutory redundancy payment, which is based on age and length of service up to a maximum of 20 years continuous service, multiplied by actual (uncapped) weekly salary, plus 3 months gross pay, which total payment the university believes it can pay tax free up to £30,000.

The VR payment will not include a payment in lieu of notice, and notice periods will be expected to be worked in full.  There is no difference in the calculation of the VR payment based on grades.

We have created a set of worked examples (15.KB) to illustrate how the payment will be worked out.  

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Who is the scheme for?

The scheme is open to all University employees other than:

  • those within the first six months’ of employment, or longer if a normal probationary period has been extended for any reason;
  • those employed on fixed-term contracts of employment, and within 12 months of the stated expiry date;
  • those employed as sessional teaching staff.

It is not open to those on casual contracts or those who work through Campus Jobs. To avoid any confusion please note that the normal probationary period (generally 6 months) is not the same as the Academic probationary period (3 years).

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How do I apply?

If you wish to apply for voluntary redundancy, you will be asked to fill in some basic details on a form that will be submitted to HR. This form must be submitted no later than 17:00 on 20 November 2020.

It is important to understand that the University reserves the right not to accept all applications.

There is more information below about how the University will consider applications.

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What happens after I apply?

In response to your emailed request, HR will provide you with a letter setting out the details of the voluntary redundancy payment to which you would be entitled should your application be accepted. We aim to provide this within five working days of receiving your request.

You must sign and return a copy of that letter if you wish to proceed with the application. By returning the letter, you are offering to take voluntary redundancy on the terms set out in that letter. The final deadline for the return of this letter will be 17:00 on Friday 27 November 2020. No applications received after this date will be considered.

Your request will then be forwarded to your Head of School or Function for them to consider.

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How will the University decide which applications to accept?

The Head of School or Head of Function will consider all requests received in discussion with their HR Partner and Finance Business Partner.

All requests will be considered in accordance with the University’s over-arching ‘managerial interest’:

  • to ensure the University’s over-arching financial strength and sustainability.
  • to continue to provide the best possible student experience.
  • to optimise the University’s returns to the REF, the TEF and other strategically important rankings.

The Head of School or Function will make a recommendation for acceptance or rejection of each application based on these criteria. All applications will then be submitted to the Voluntary Redundancy Group (VRG).   

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What is the Voluntary Redundancy Group (VRG)?

The VRG is the central committee responsible for approving voluntary redundancy requests.  It is chaired by Professor Mark Fellowes, (Pro-Vice-Chancellor – Academic Planning & Resource). Other members of the VRG are Dr Richard Messer (Chief Strategy Officer and Secretary to Council) and Mrs Kate Owen (Council Member). The VRG will make the final decision on all applications.

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When do I hear if my application has been accepted?

Applications need to be considered by the Head of School or Function and the VR Group before decisions can be communicated. The Director of Human Resources will confirm decisions to relevant individuals in writing in early January 2021.  

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If my application is declined, can I appeal?

There is no right of appeal against the decision should a voluntary redundancy request be declined.

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I am on a fixed term contract. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can still apply as long as there is at least 12 months before the stated expiry date of your fixed term contract.

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I have less than two years’ service. Can I still apply?

Yes, you may still apply and your application will be considered, as above.  

You cannot apply if you are within the first six months’ of employment, or longer if a normal probationary period has been extended for any reason.

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Will all applications for voluntary redundancy be accepted?

No. While the scheme is being launched to generate savings that can offset some of the proposed cost-saving measures set out in the final proposal agreed with the UCU and the Staff Forum, we still need to deliver on the ongoing core commitments and services the University has to deliver. All requests will be considered against the over-arching managerial interest:

  • to ensure the University’s over-arching financial strength and sustainability.
  • to continue to provide the best possible student experience.
  • to optimise the University’s returns to the REF, the TEF and other strategically important rankings.

As a result, requests may be declined where the loss of the post will impact significantly on the School or Function’s ability to deliver core activity or planned priorities.

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If I express an interest in voluntary redundancy, do I need to give my reasons why?

No, there is no requirement for you to give specific reasons for why you are expressing an interest in the voluntary redundancy scheme. Your application will be forwarded to your Head of School/Function to consider, so if you are planning to apply, you may wish to speak to your Head of School/Function in advance, but there is no requirement to do so.

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If I apply, but my application is not accepted, will this affect my future employment?

No, if you volunteer for redundancy but are not selected, it will not affect any aspect of your  future employment with the University.

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Can I withdraw my application?

Yes, you can withdraw your application at any point up to the date on which the University writes to accept your offer to take voluntary redundancy.

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If I apply for voluntary redundancy, and it is accepted, can I apply for other roles and come back and work at the University in the future?

Yes, you will not be barred from applying for future jobs at the University.  However, if you leave the University under voluntary redundancy you cannot be re-employed or work as a contractor / consultant at the University for a minimum of 24 months. The University will not be able to replace your post for the same period of time.

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What will I receive by way of a voluntary redundancy payment?

We have created a set of worked examples (15.KB) that illustrate the voluntary redundancy payment and how it is calculated. Colleagues applying for voluntary redundancy will receive a full quote setting out the full gross payment they would expect to receive if their application is agreed.

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When will I leave if my application for voluntary redundancy is accepted?

It is expected that, where applications are accepted, colleagues will leave the University by 31 July 2021 at the latest. All quotes for voluntary redundancy will be based on this leave date –  earlier leave dates can be agreed by the VR Group subject to Head of School or Function agreement, but to ensure consistency, all information provided will be based on a 31 July 2021 leave date.

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I would like some information about my pension before considering whether to apply?

If you are over 55, you can get a pension quote by sending an email to pensions@reading.ac.uk and quoting “VR – Pension Info Request” in the subject line. If possible, please include details of which pension scheme you belong to. The Pensions Office will arrange a quote for you from the relevant provider but please note response times are dependent on the relevant Pension provider so you must ensure that you make a request in good time and no later than Monday 16 November, which is five working days before the voluntary redundancy scheme closes. 

If you are under 55 you cannot draw your pension and quotes will not be requested on your behalf.

The University will not be making any payments to purchase additional pensionable service. If you are considering using part or all of a voluntary redundancy payment to top up pension you should consider seeking independent financial advice.

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Why am I not able to use the money to purchase additional pensionable service to enhance my pension benefits?

The University is not including any enhancements to pension benefits as part of this voluntary redundancy scheme. We wish to be consistent to staff in different pension schemes and have therefore decided not to include this as part of this voluntary redundancy scheme.

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Will the scheme change or re-open in the future?

The University reserves the right to vary the scheme and/or the timing.  At this stage there is no intention to re-open the voluntary redundancy scheme in the future.  

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Who can help me with any questions I might have?

If you have any specific queries in relation to the voluntary redundancy scheme you can email vrqueries@reading.ac.uk and a member of the Human Resources team will respond to your query as soon as possible.

If you wish to talk to someone in confidence about the scheme, then please contact your HR Partner or Adviser who will try and assist with any queries you may have. Contact details are available on the HR webpage.

If you are a member of UCU you may wish to seek advice from one of your local representatives. You can also speak to members of the Staff Forum.

You may want to seek independent advice (such as via an independent financial adviser) or talk to your family and friends. 

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I am worried about upcoming change. Where can I go for help?

We understand that this challenging financial period for the University can be unsettling. If you are feeling anxious or worried, please talk to your line manager as they may be able to allay concerns or can find out answers to questions about things which may be worrying you.

You can also contact our Employee Assistance providers by visiting the website www.well-online.co.uk (login details can be found at the above link – you will be asked to provide your University username and password). They offer a comprehensive range of support and advice services to colleagues including:

  • Health and wellbeing advice and information;
  • Counselling & emotional support;
  • Debt & financial management;
  • Legal and tax advice. 

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