Stage 4: Exploring alternatives to compulsory redundancy

Stage 4a: Voluntary redundancy

The need for compulsory redundancy may be avoided if those at risk, or others, reach agreement to leave voluntarily.  This can take the form of voluntary severance; early retirement; or 'bump' severance.

Voluntary severance

At any time during the warning period an employee at risk of redundancy may apply to resign and leave the University voluntarily on enhanced terms (Pro-forma letter A3).

  • although the department may seek volunteers as a means of avoiding compulsory redundancies, it must be clear that any application to leave voluntarily is the employee’s choice.
  • HR Business Partners will advise on the terms available on a case-by-case basis.
  • to accept an application, the department must be satisfied that it is appropriate for that particular employee to be released (Pro-forma letter A4).
  • it may be necessary to wait until the end of the warning period before formally accepting an individual's resignation, in order to ensure that the number of employees wishing to leave on enhanced terms does not exceed the staff reduction required (in which case, a selection process will be necessary in order to determine which resignations should be accepted).

Employees who leave the University on enhanced, voluntary severance terms should not be re-employed in any capacity for a period of time, normally at least three months, after the leaving date, the period to be determined by the University at the time of severance. For further information contact your HR Business Partners.

Early retirement

In appropriate circumstances, an employee at risk might wish to apply for early retirement under the rules of the pension scheme to which he or she belongs (consult early retirement)

Bump severance

Where volunteers do not come forward, or where there are insufficient volunteers, the next step would be to explore the possibility of bump severance.  This occurs when an employee not at risk volunteers to leave his or her employment so that an employee who is at risk and who is not volunteering to leave can move into their post.

  • bump severance is only possible where the skills and abilities of the employee who is to continue at the University match the requirements of the post from which the volunteer is departing
  • details of employees who, with the agreement of their department,  have registered an interest in bump severance should  suitable opportunity arise are available on Register of employees wishing to leave on agreed terms

In all cases the department with advice from HR Business Partners, should try to ensure that those applying to leave voluntarily understand the implications:

  • the University will not normally re-employ them in any capacity until a minimum of three months after their leaving date.
  • agreement on voluntary severance constitutes a mutually agreed termination of employment and there is therefore no need for contractual notice to be given by either party, nor is there any obligation on the University to pay salary in lieu of notice.  Termination normally takes place on a mutually acceptable date no earlier than the end of the advance warning period and no later than the date at which the contract would have been terminated had contractual or statutory notice been given at the end of the warning period. Advice should be sought from HR Business Partners if there is any wish to make other arrangements.
  • the employee should seek advice from the Pensions Office.

Stage 4b: redeployment

The University has an obligation to ensure that employees who are at risk of redundancy may look for suitable alternative work. If suitable alternative work is identified and if the employee is suitable to undertake it, it should be offered to the employee before the end of the employee’s current employment.

Within a reasonable time of being given advance warning, the employee at risk should let the department know whether or not he or she wishes to pursue alternative employment at the University.

  • If the employee does not wish to pursue redeployment at the University, he or she should inform the department by means of a letter (Pro-forma letter A5).  No further action to redeploy is then required.
  • If the employee wishes to pursue alternative employment at the University, he or she should inform the department by means of a letter (Pro-forma letter A6). 
  • The department should reply to the employee with a letter identifying a nominated facilitator, confirming that they are considered to be a Priority candidate and providing details of the process (Pro-forma letter A7). 
  • Through the nominated facilitator, at meetings and by way of correspondence, the department should continue to advise the employee about redeployment prospects throughout the potential redeployment period.  Copies of such correspondence and the notes taken at discussions should be kept on file.
  • If the employee has not responded within a reasonable time, the department should seek a response.

If the employee does wish to be redeployed, the appropriate department should make all reasonable efforts to try to locate suitable alternative employment.  The department should provide an employee who wishes to redeploy with:

  • the opportunity to submit a Priority candidate application, if a suitable vacancy is identified;
  • access to any potentially suitable vacancies within the same department and the opportunity to discuss them, where possible, before they are advertised;
  • access to information about all university vacancies through the jobs and vacancies website;
  • access to training relevant to improving their chances of finding alternative employment, and reasonable time away from normal duties to participate in such training and to search for a job;
  • research staff in particular should be helped to consider realistic career options outside universities as well as within.

Redeployment constitutes a change to an individual's contractual terms of employment and cannot be implemented without his or her consent.  But unreasonable failure to accept an offer of suitable alternative employment would put the individual at risk that he or she would not be entitled to a redundancy payment.

Where an employee whose post is at risk of redundancy has an opportunity for redeployment, the department may offer financial assistance to facilitate this, up to an amount not exceeding the potential cost of voluntary severance for the employee in question (including any employer's on-costs, if appropriate). This may take several forms e.g.:

  • it may be appropriate to offer a limited period of salary protection if the redeployment is to a lower graded post, or one which offers a lower salary for other reasons; or
  • the funds could be used to pay for all or part of the cost of any appropriate retraining required.
  • HR Business Partners must be consulted before any such offers are made. Where appropriate, this arrangement could involve a transfer of funds between departments.