Voluntary Early Release Scheme May 2009: Frequently Asked Questions What is VERS? VERS is a voluntary early release scheme which potentially allows staff to leave the University’s employment with a financial package to ease their transition to a new set of circumstances. What would the package be? If you have between 2 and 20 years service you would receive 1 full year’s salary If you have more than 20 years’ service you would receive up to 1.3 year’s salary. For staff with more than two years service there will be an opportunity to convert the value of the package into purchasing additional pension benefit, provided that the cost to the University does not exceed the equivalent cost of a severance package Can anyone apply for VERS? All staff with 2 or more years service who are on a continuing contract of employment beyond 31 July 2009 will be eligible to apply. When should I apply? If you are interested in VERS then you should speak to your Dean or Head of Support Department as soon as possible. Decisions will be communicated by HR once EB have considered the applications. How do I apply? If you want to apply for VERS, you must complete the VERS application form and send this to your Dean / Head of Support Department. Your Dean / Head of Support Department will then discuss your application with you and whether or not they will support it, stating the reasons for their decision on your application form. At this meeting a notice period and leaving date will be agreed, subject to Executive approval. The application will then be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, clearly marked VERS. All applications will be sent from HR to Executive Board for consideration. Can I apply without speaking to my Line Manager? No applications will be considered by Executive Board without the input from the applicant’s Dean / Head of Support Department. If my application is successful, when would I leave? The expectation would normally be that you would work your contractual notice period starting from the date on which your application had been accepted. An extended or reduced notice period could be mutually agreed. Could I “Wind Down” to retiral? Yes. If your pension scheme supports the concept of “winding down” and you meet the criteria for VERS then that is an option that you could explore with your line manager. Could I be re-employed at the University after leaving through VERS? Not normally. There is the small possibility of a re-engagement on a short fixed-term and/or parttime basis following your release/retiral. If you do choose to stay with the University however, you may not be entitled to your VERS payment until you leave the organisation permanently, for tax reasons. What financial advice will the University provide? We recommend that you seek independent financial advice, especially in relation to pensions or investments. Fees incurred are an individual’s responsibility. What support will the University provide to help me with the change? If your application is successful, you will be able to access outplacement support from Right Management. Information relating to the services available can be found on the HR intranet site. I am in a re-deployment situation and have applied for vacant posts. If I am offered a new role in the University can I defer my acceptance of the post pending the outcome of VERS? No. If you are offered a vacant post you would be expected to either accept or decline within a reasonable timescale. It would be unfair to other staff in a re-deployment situation who wanted to remain with the University if they were denied the opportunity of securing a job because another person wanted to “hedge their bets” in case their VERS application was unsuccessful. If my Dean / Head of Support Department does not support me in applying for VERS can I proceed with my application? All applications will be considered by the Executive Board, however all applications must have input from the applicant’s Line Manager If your application is declined by EB can you appeal against the decision made? No, the Executive Board decision is final; there is no right to appeal. Who will make the decision as to whether I am accepted for VERS? The Executive will consider all applications and base decisions on whether the position going forward would support the University’s strategic priorities. What are the criteria for selection? There will be a default assumption that a member of staff whose post is released will not be replaced. The Dean or Head of Support department may make a case for replacing a VERS leaver, on condition that they clearly identify equivalent savings from elsewhere in their agreed 08/09 pay bill (i.e. ‘bumped’ savings), within the same financial year. All applications must serve the management interest. All staff on a continuing contract of employment beyond 31 July 2009 are eligible to apply. The Executive Board reserves the right to take into account exceptional or special individual circumstances when making decisions. I am a part time lecturer and have been for a number of years, am I eligible for VERS? Yes, so long as you have guaranteed hours you can apply. Successful applicants will receive a package based on their current annual salary. I am on a fixed term contract, can I apply for VERS? Yes, provided that you have 2 or more years continuous service and employed on a continuing contract of employment beyond 31 July 2009. As I need to get the Compromise Agreement signed, will the University pay for my legal fees? The University will pay up to £250+vat towards the cost of legal fees. Any additional fees must be met by the individual. Will I be eligible for the holiday entitlement I accrue over the VERS period? Yes. Do I have to take all outstanding holidays before I leave? Successful applicants will be expected to take all accrued holiday entitlement prior to your agreed leave date. If there is an operational business reason why this cannot occur this must be discussed and agreed with your Line Manager. Your Line Manager must inform Human Resources, prior to your leaving date, if any outstanding holiday payment is due to yourself. I did not receive my long service award when the policy was introduced in 2004. If I leave through VERS, am I eligible for the appropriate long service award? Yes. How much Tax will I have to pay on my VERS payment? The first £30,000 of any VERS payment will be tax free. Payments above that threshold will incur income tax at your current highest rate for this tax year. If I was successful in my VERS application and reached agreement not to work my notice period would this part of the payment be taxable? This is dependant on a number of factors however it is best to assume that this would be classed as ‘pay’ and would therefore be taxable. If I agree a deferred package when will I receive the VERS payment? To ensure the payment qualifies for any tax free allowance (£30,000) its likely no payment will be made until you leave the University. How would VERS affect my pension? The University is not offering an early retirement option. The payment of a VERS package should not affect your pension entitlement, unless you opt to purchase additional benefit. The rules governing access to pensions are specific to the individual pension schemes (see Application Guidance Notes). However, it’s likely if you access your pension before normal retirement age you will be subject to an actuarial reduction in your pension benefits. I am 51 years old and a member of the SPF/USS, what affect will this have on my VERS application? As you are a member of the pension scheme and over 50 years of age there will be a ‘strain on the fund cost’ payable by the University. The University will contact the pension fund to ascertain the amount of the strain costs. It may be that your strain costs payable will be greater than your VERS payment, in which case your application would be declined on this basis. SPF pension fund members may wish to choose to opt out of the pension fund, for a minimum of one clear month prior to the agreed VERS date on the GCU payroll, in order to avoid the ‘strain on the fund’ costs being incurred. This decision must be made by the individual and the University cannot give any financial advice relating to this. You may wish to speak directly to the fund if you are considering this. I am 59 years old and a member of the SPF/USS, what affect will this have on my VERS application? As you are a member of the pension scheme and over 50 years of age there will be a ‘strain on the fund cost’ payable by the University. The University will contact the pension fund to ascertain the amount of the strain costs. It may be that your strain costs payable will be less than your VERS payment, in which case your VERS payment would be off-set against this. SPF pension fund members may wish to choose to opt out of the pension fund, for a minimum of one clear month prior to the agreed VERS date, on the GCU payroll, in order to avoid the ‘strain on the fund’ costs being incurred. This decision must be made by the individual and the University cannot give any financial advice relating to this. You may wish to speak directly to the fund if you are considering this.
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