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Update on the Voluntary Redundancy Scheme

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The following message has been sent to all colleagues, which provides details on how to apply for voluntary redundancy.

Dear colleagues,

We have talked extensively in recent months about the consultation process with representatives from UCU and the Staff Forum and the resulting proposal to address a projected shortfall in income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal included a commitment to provide an opportunity for colleagues to apply for voluntary redundancy.

The scheme will open for applications from Wednesday 28 October to 20 November 2020 and I set out some of the main points below. You can find all the details of the scheme, including some Q&As and worked examples, on the Staff Portal. Details of the scheme have also been shared in advance with the University and College Union and the Staff Forum.

As I mentioned at our most recent briefing session for colleagues, our enrolment figures for this year are looking better than we anticipated, but it remains the case COVID-19 has created a great deal of financial uncertainty. It was agreed with the Staff Forum and the UCU that a voluntary redundancy offer could help us achieve savings that minimise the need for the other proposed cost-saving measures set out in the proposal. These include the temporary tiered pay-cut and a three-year pay freeze.

If voluntary redundancy is an option you wish to explore, then I encourage you to have an early informal discussion with your manager about how this might work in practice. I want to make very clear that having this discussion, or making an application for voluntary redundancy that is not ultimately accepted, will not affect your future employment with us in any way.

A central Voluntary Redundancy Group (VRG) chaired by Professor Mark Fellowes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Planning and Resource) will review and decide on all applications. Other members of the VRG are Dr Richard Messer (Chief Strategy Officer and Secretary to Council) and Mrs Kate Owen (Council member). The Directors of Human Resources, Finance and Legal Services will also be attend.

If you have any questions about the detail of the scheme, you can contact your Head of School or Function or email VRQueries@reading.ac.uk.

Kind regards

Robert

Professor Robert Van de Noort

Vice-Chancellor


Who can apply for voluntary redundancy?

The voluntary redundancy offer will be open to all University employees other than:

a.        those within the first six months' of employment, or longer if a normal probationary period has been extended for any reason;

b.        those employed on fixed-term contracts of employment, and within 12 months of the stated expiry date;

c.         those employed as sessional teaching staff.

What will the voluntary redundancy payment be?

The voluntary redundancy payment will be a sum equivalent to the statutory redundancy payment (uncapped), plus 3 months' gross pay. We believe that the total payment can be paid tax free up to £30,000.

There are some worked examples on the Staff Portal to help you understand what this means in practice, including how tax would be applied.

How long is the scheme open?

The scheme will be open for four weeks, from Wednesday 28 October to Friday 20 November 2020. Colleagues can submit a request at any point during that period by completing an online form.

An application can be withdrawn at any point up until the University formally accepts it in writing.

All of the details of the process and timeframes are set out in the guidance and FAQs on the Staff Portal.

How will applications be assessed?

All requests will be considered against the over-arching managerial interest:

a.        to ensure the University's over-arching financial strength and sustainability.

b.        to continue to provide the best possible student experience.

c.         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.

When will I know if my request has been accepted?

All applicants will receive confirmation of whether their application has been accepted or rejected in early January 2021.

When will voluntary redundancies take effect?

We anticipate that colleagues whose applications are accepted will leave the University no later than 31 July 2021. Colleagues will be expected to work their full notice period before that date.

How would taking voluntary redundancy affect my pension?

This will depend on your personal circumstances. If you are over 55 you can get a pension quote by emailing your request to pensions@reading.ac.uk with the subject line ‘VR - Pension Info Request'.  Please note that response times will depend on the relevant pension provider so please ensure your request is made in good time and no later than five working days before the voluntary redundancy scheme closes. Extra time will not be permitted to seek advice before confirming your offer to take voluntary redundancy.

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