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Message from John Brady: update on cost saving options

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The following message was sent to all colleagues from John Brady, Director of Human Resources.

Dear colleagues,

I am following up on the all-staff briefing earlier this month about Phase-1 of our Post-COVID-19 Response Programme.

Among the proposals discussed and agreed with the UCU and Staff Forum were a range of options for cost savings to address a projected shortfall in income.

In his briefing session on Thursday 5 November, the Vice-Chancellor shared his cautious optimism that following an initial review of the University's financial position it was now unlikely that the proposed tiered pay reductions would be required. We hope to confirm this following the formal review scheduled for 1 February 2021.

As things stand, the proposed three-year pay freeze remains necessary, subject to the outcomes of the formal review next February. This means that we will not apply any nationally agreed pay increases, known as the ‘cost of living' increase, for the years 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23. This is estimated to generate savings in the region of £21m over the three-year period and is an important part of our collective efforts to address the shortfall in income arising from the impact of COVID-19. However, normal incremental progression is not affected by this. 

In our discussions with UCU and Staff Forum representatives we also identified a number of ways in which colleagues could either voluntarily contribute to reducing costs or generate additional income, in addition to the voluntary redundancy scheme that closed on Friday 20 November. These include reducing the hours you work, either permanently or for an agreed temporary period, taking an extended period of unpaid leave and, where appropriate, taking an early or flexible retirement.

Reduced hours, unpaid leave and flexible retirement

If you are interested in reducing the hours you work, temporarily or permanently, or taking an extended (i.e. three months or more) period of unpaid leave, you can do so either by using the formal flexible working procedures or by speaking directly with your line manager in the first instance. Where agreed such arrangements have no impact on your continuity of service and in respect of extended periods of unpaid leave pension contributions can be maintained.

If you are considering an early or flexible retirement you will need to familiarise yourself with the arrangements allowable for the particular pension scheme you belong to, be that the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the University of Reading Employees' Pension Fund (UREPF) or the University of Reading Pension Scheme (URPS). Information for members, as appropriate, can be found in the USS membership guide , the UREPF guide and the URPS guide .

Specific information in respect of flexible retirement is available for members of the USS and UREPF.

Purchasing additional leave

In order to generate further income we also agreed to introduce a facility to enable colleagues to purchase additional leave. This will be a new arrangement for the University, which we will trial for the 2021-22 leave year; further detail in respect of the required process will follow shortly. However by way of a broad introduction:

  • There will be an annual opportunity to purchase up to 10 additional days' annual leave, subject to approval by your line manager.
  • Each additional day purchased will be charged at 1/260th of the relevant salary.
  • Payment will be by deduction from salary.
  • Additional leave purchased will be requested and approved in the normal way.
  • There will be no adjustment to the normal arrangements for carrying over leave from one year to the next, therefore additionally purchased leave must be used within the leave year in which it is purchased.
  • Unused leave, other than that carried over, will not be refunded.
  • Should a colleague leave during the relevant leave year the normal arrangements for payment of any unused leave will apply.

My colleagues in HR and Finance will be monitoring savings and income generated via the above arrangements in the period up to the scheduled formal review, and this will inform discussions in respect of the University's financial position and the necessity or otherwise for the proposed cost-savings measures.

I will be updating colleagues again as soon as possible following the meeting with UCU and the Staff Forum on 1 February 2021.

If you have any immediate questions please feel free to contact me at

Best wishes,



John Brady

Director of Human Resources

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