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Update on VLS – change to terms and conditions

May 19, 2010

The Voluntary Leavers’ Scheme (VLS), when first released, advertised the following terms and conditions:

4.4. Staff who leave under the VLS will not normally be re-employed at a later date by the University in any capacity for at least five years following their leaving date, unless there is prior agreement as detailed in section 4.3.

4.3. In some circumstances, where there is a demonstrated requirement, eg to allow for completion of teaching, it may be possible to agree limited part-time re-engagement. This will be for a proportion (between 10% and 30%) and salary will be capped at point 43 of the pay scale.

Letters that some people have received state:

Please note that, inaccordance with the Voluntary Leavers’ Scheme arrangements, members of staff leaving under VLS will not normally be considered for re-employment by the University in any capacity in the future.  However, in certain circumstances (where the individual possesses specialist skills or experience), applications for advertised posts may be submitted, but only after a period of not less than five years has elapsed since the original leaving date.

It was always made clear to UCU in discussions on the VLS that part-time re-engagement was possible up to a max of 0.3FTE for a time-limited period, expected to be 12 months or less in certain cases and subject to management approval/in the interests of the university.  In other circumstances, the 5 year exclusion would apply. It appears that the University has tightened up the circumstances under which someone who accepts VLS might be employed by the University in the future, regardless of whether or not they were re-engaged (as per 4.3 in the advertised conditions) to complete some teaching, for example. Under 4.4 in the original documentation it simply says that if you take VLS you can’t be employed by the university for 5 years after you leave (excluding some cases as per 4.3).  The VLS offer letter narrows this to people who leave under VLS only being able to apply for jobs at the University after 5 years ‘where the individual possesses specialist skills or experience’.

The University has agreed that it will confirm the original position re 5 years in writing to anyone who would like this.   Anyone  who has concerns may contact the Pensions office who will address the matter.

The UCU remains concerned over the failure to consult, as regards the VLS, the failure to provide any  impact assessment, the failure to involve senate on the academic impact of the VLS before pursuing the scheme, not to mention the first the ungenerous terms of the offers and the deterioration of expectation that employees are expected to accept relative to mobility incentive and premature retirement schemes it replaced.

We understand that 825 applications were made to the scheme: approximately 1 in 10 employees. To consider leaving employment in times of great economic uncertainty might be viewed as an indictment of sorts.

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