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Voluntary Severance Scheme

The University's Director of HR Operations accepted an invitation to attend the General Meeting on Wednesday 13 March to answer members' questions about the Voluntary Severance Scheme. Here is a summary of that Q & A session:

Q1. When in the process can an application be made for a new job without the VSS application being prejudiced?
A1. At stage 2. i.e. when the application has been processed to the V-C.
Stage 1 is the expression of interest by the member of staff and confirmation of eligibility by the University.
Stage 2, when VS is confirmed by the Panel and signed off by the V-C, is binding and it is hoped it will be a swift process but with flexibility. Staff who attend interviews for jobs with a new employer should keep HR informed because HR has a duty to ensure that VSS payments are made only in the appropriate circumstances.

Q2. Is the initial procedure between the member of staff and HR?
A2.  For  MPSS and support staff the initial contact is with the appropriate College Registrar or Director of HR Operations if you are based in the Professional Services.; it is NOT a requirement to run an application past a line manager. Applications are being received directly from members of staff but less than 5% have not talked to their manager. Applications can still be lodged with HR even if a Head of School / Directorate does not wish it to proceed. Staff in the Teaching & Research, Teaching & Scholarship or Research career pathways have a different process & are expected to discuss an application with their HoS.

Q3. What is the time scale from when the expression of interest is received in HR?
A3.  Normally 3 to 4 weeks. HR is about to commence responding to applicants who have submitted applications. There are a lot of discussions with Heads of Schools or Directors about  restructuring and need time to marry up their ideas with the implications of approved VSS applications.

Q4.      Does a HoS have to give a reason for refusal to support an application?
A4.      Yes: it is expected that such reasons will be made available to applicants.

Q5.      Once an academic business case has been sent to HR, is it a 3 to 4 week turnround from Stage 1?
A5.      Yes but HR will respond to applicants as quickly as possible.

Q6.      What does the set criteria in the form relate to?
A6.      The criteria is set out in section 3 of the VSS document; please refer to that.

Q7.      When the criteria is being assessed, will the VSS Panel have to investigate it in detail? Could a small group decide to accept the application only for others later in the process to disagree?
A7.      The HoS is expected to assess the impact of losing the post and where the work which remains would go or how it would be done differently. In some cases this could be done quickly; others may take more time. It is NOT incumbent on the applicant to produce a business case in support of an application. There is a lot of discussion going on. Decisions are not being taken by one person and the thinking of HoSs is being challenged when appropriate.

Q8.      How will applications from staff on Fixed Term Contracts (FTC) be treated if the expectation of funding goes beyond 2 years?
A8.      If it is clear that the project will continue beyond 2 years, a FTC member of staff will not be excluded but, as in every case, eligibility would have to be confirmed.

Q9.      Is there any flexibility if 2 years service is not continuous?
A9.      No. No flexibility on that. It must be continuous service because 2 years is when redundancy becomes payable and the VSS is designed to match that.

Q10.    What about maternity leave re. service?
A10.    Maternity leave is regarded as continuous service.

Q11.    Some posts vacated by VSS leavers will have to be replaced. Will the process to fill them be open and transparent?
A11.    Yes of course. Where vacancies arise, the normal recruitment process will be applied including use of the Redeployment Register .

Q12.    Assessments are being made before the deadline. Therefore, on a first come first served basis. If there are subsequent applications from within the same team, how will they be prioritised / assessed?
A12.    The issues which arise from such situations will be managed as they arise. A situation where there are several applications from the same team may create interesting scenarios given that once an application has been approved at Stage 2 it is binding.

Q13.    Re. timing of 3 / 4 weeks, what will be happening in that time?
A13.    The VSS Panel is meeting weekly and is up to date with applications received so far.

Q14.    When will staff be able to leave once an applications has been approved?
A14.    In each case there will be discussions about leaving the University but will be from the end of April through to the end of 2013.

Q15.    What will happen after Stage 2 if a manager wants a successful applicant to stay on for a period after a successful application for a new job?
A15.    After Stage 2 is completed, VSS is binding. Leaving dates will be agreed with those who are moving to a new job.