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Human Resources

Voluntary Severance Scheme

1. Introduction

The voluntary severance (VS) scheme has been introduced to support change programmes at Durham University, and is open to staff who meet the scheme eligibility criteria at section 3. This scheme will be open for the period 10 April to 26 May 2017, applications to be considered must be received no later than 5pm on 26 May 2017. It is anticipated that this scheme will be closed at the due date.

However, it is recognised after 2017/18, there is a further two year programme of change to be delivered by Durham DOES, and it is possible that any VS scheme thereafter will be on a more targeted basis.

The scheme has been developed in consultation with the University recognised Trade Unions.

2. Principles upon which the scheme is based

I. The total severance payment will equate to the equivalent of 12 months’ gross pay (inclusive of notice and any potential contractual entitlements);

II. Only staff with continuous service of two or more years with Durham University will be considered;

III. It is for the University to determine, following discussions with Trade Unions, when the use of VS is appropriate;

IV. The scheme will operate on the basis of staff having a right to apply for VS, not a right to be granted VS;

V. Any VS case will only be approved if the business criteria is met, this will include:

a. the application would fall within the direction of travel of Durham DOES;

b. the application will enable the academic strategy for growth and development to be achieved;

c. areas identified for costs savings will be supported through the releasing of such a post;

d. creating opportunities to support future developments;

VI. Where a VS application is approved for a member of PSS staff, this will normally be on the basis of non-replacement of the role in order to deliver cost savings;

VII. The normal expectation is that any VS proposal would be cost neutral within a period of 12 months;

VIII. Replacement for Academic staff will be allowed once the funds for VS have been re-couped. This is anticipated to be within 12 months and replacement will be at Assistant Professor level;

IX. There will be an appropriate VS window for applications from 10 April to 26 May 2017. This will enable robust and equitable decisions to be made;

X. The VS request will go to the appropriate line manager in the first instance. The manager will, in conjunction with their head of department/college, complete Section 2 of the application form to reflect the impact of approving the application and release of the post. The UEC Lead for the respective area will be asked, prior to any submissions to the Panel, to provide an overarching report which reflects their assessment of how savings could be achieved, work absorbed, reallocated or stopped. This report will be presented to the Panel for consideration along with all applications received.

XI.All applications will be considered by the Panel, which will comprise: Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Provost, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Finance Officer, PVC Colleges and Student Experience and Director of HR & OD. However as this scheme will be opened to all staff, a wider group might be established comprising other UEC members and HR staff to ensure full consideration of all applications can be given within the timeframe of the scheme;

XII. There is no right of appeal against the decision of the University should a VS application be declined;

XIII. If VS is granted, a member of staff (over the age of 55) may choose to take independent financial advice regarding any aspect of their pensions and the University will be able to provide, via the pension administrator, a full range of illustrations;

XIV. Any VS requests that are agreed will be finalised via a formal legal agreement (see section 4 below);

XV.The University may adopt ‘bumping’ for VS in exceptional circumstances where it deems it appropriate to do so:

a. ‘Bumping’ will be considered where there is a member of staff (in a group eligible to apply for VS) who does not wish to apply for VS but the only alternative role is occupied by a member of staff not eligible to apply for VS who would like the option to apply.

b. All such requests will be subject to agreement by the Steering group, informed by the head of department/college.

3. Scheme eligibility

This scheme is open to full and part-time staff (supported by core funding).

The following groups would not be eligible to make an application under this scheme:

I. Staff identified as in-scope as part of the Queen’s Campus re-purposing project (who are subject to separate VS arrangements and timescales);

II. Where an employee has already, formally, given notice of their intention to resign/retire prior to the date when the VS window opens;

III. Where an employee has already secured employment with another employer;

IV. An employee has been notified of the date of termination of their contract of employment for any other reason;

V.Where an employee is undergoing transfer from the University under TUPE arrangements;

VI.Employees who have been issued with notice of redundancy;

VII. Staff whose contracts of employment are dependent on external funding (as such contracts are cost neutral to the University).

4. Formal Legal Agreement

Payment of Voluntary Severance is conditional upon each successful applicant entering into a formal legal agreement with the University.

Staff whose application for VS is approved but who decline to enter into a formal legal agreement will not be able to leave the University under the VS scheme.

5. Application Process

I. Employees, who are eligible to be considered for VS, should apply between 10 April and 26 May 2017. Applications from eligible staff outside of this window will not normally be considered.

II. Employees, who are eligible to be considered for VS, should complete section 1 of the application form attached at Appendix 1, and pass this to their line manager.

III.Managers should, in conjunction with the head of department/college/faculty, complete section 2 of the application form. The application should then be forwarded by email to;

IV. HR will verify the employee information and calculate VS costs, and forward applications to the appropriate UEC lead for their review and consideration as identified in Section 2 above;

V.The Panel will consider the UEC Lead’s report and all requests, whether supported within the department or not, and will either approve or decline the application and complete section 3 of the application form. This decision is final and there is no right of appeal. The UEC Lead and head of department/college/faculty will be notified of the decision of the Panel;

VI. If a request is declined the employee’s manager will inform the employee of the decision. If a request is approved the employees manager will inform the member of staff, and following this a member of the HR team will contact the employee to advise of next steps.

Note: following the closure of this scheme the University reserves the right to withdraw or amend the VS scheme.