Voluntary Severance Scheme

Voluntary Severance Scheme – April and May 2021

Find the key information relating to the previous scheme we ran from 27 April to 26 May 2021.

What is a Voluntary Severance Scheme?

A Voluntary Severance Scheme offers an opportunity for qualifying employees to apply to leave their employer on a voluntary basis, e.g. to pursue other career or personal interests, and in doing so are provided with a monetary package to support them to leave.

Voluntary Severance requires consideration of the needs of the organisation and impact before any approvals are given, including the consideration of whether the number or combination of applicants will adversely affect the employer’s strategic priorities.

The attraction of opportunities such as voluntary severance is that they are non-discriminatory. A well-designed scheme can be mutually beneficial, allowing changes to be made by staff voluntary means.

About the scheme

All employees of the University who met the qualifying criteria set out in the scheme could individually decide whether this was an opportunity they wished to apply for. There were no expectations whatsoever over who put themselves forward for consideration and staff, not their managers, initiated these discussions.

The following would not normally be allowed to leave under this policy:

  • those individuals identified as critical to delivering the organisation’s requirements
  • where an employee is already serving notice to leave for whatever reason
  • where the number or combination of applicants will adversely affect the School / Division or wider University functions, or
  • members of the University’s Executive Group or the University Leadership Team.

The scheme opened at 9am on Tuesday 27 April and closed at 9am on Wednesday 26 May 2021.

The VS Scheme is a financial measure the University undertook to protect the future and financial sustainability of the institution.

This allows us to continue to rebuild our organisation, and support the achievement of the Size and Shape strategy.

Timeline of previous scheme

  • 25 March – VS Scheme approved by Council
  • 27 April – VS Scheme opens at 9am
  • 26 May – VS Scheme closes at 9am
  • Early June – Panel reviews applications
  • Late July – VS Scheme Settlement process concludes.

Principles of the previous scheme

  • The VS scheme will be open to all staff to apply other than members of UEG and ULT.  It will be open for a time limited window. 
  • It will be a completely voluntary scheme.  Staff will be provided with sufficient information and support to make properly informed choices.  They will not be coerced or pressured in any way. 
  • It is intended to make the terms financially attractive to staff to maximise the long-term savings that could be generated by the scheme by maintaining the terms agreed in VS1
  • Voluntary Severance is intended as a means of reducing the pay bill, enabling the University to respond to changing circumstances. The intention behind having a VS scheme at this time is to minimise the need to make compulsory redundancies at a later point in time.  The savings created by a successful VS scheme will be used to reduce the £15 million savings that are required and will be used to off-set any identified pay bill savings.  We therefore want to maximise the uptake of Voluntary Severance where appropriate.
  • The workload of remaining staff is of paramount importance. Decisions on acceptance for VS will be made with the potential impact on remaining staff being brought to the fore. All local and institution wide workload agreements will be taken into consideration when reviewing requests for VS2. The departmental head (or PS equivalent) and senior manager for the School or PS Division will be required to identify how the work of the posts being lost will be covered, which may involve moving another member of staff into the role (i.e. bumping).
  • Careful consideration will be taken of the possible effects of any VS exits on service delivery, modules, courses or programmes.  Senior and departmental managers will be tasked with assessing this taking into account the possible impact including whether reductions in staff numbers due to VS could have ramifications for the viability of modules, courses or programmes.  Any appropriate data will be utilised to inform this process, including consultation with line managers who are more familiar with the role in question.
  • The VS scheme will be accessible to all staff and we will take into account equality and diversity issues when designing the scheme including the recognition that reasonable adjustments may be necessary to ensure staff have access to all information (e.g. access to IT, implications of having to use video conferencing and online delivery on people who may have issues with that approach and who may already be under considerable pressure).
  • An equalities impact assessment process will be built into the scheme.
  • Staff will be provided with legal advice to support the signing of settlement agreements and outplacement support will be made available.
  • Open and timely communications with applicants as to the progress of their application and decisions will take place during the process.
  • Any data or information concerning the process will be managed in accordance with GDPR requirements. 
  • Pension enhancements will not be included in the VS scheme.