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From the Provost and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

Proposed voluntary redundancy program

7 October 2020

Dear colleagues,

Today we are formally setting out the details of the proposed University-wide voluntary redundancy program for consultation.

The four-week consultation period, as set out in our Enterprise Agreement, will run from today, Wednesday 7 October until Wednesday 4 November for staff to provide feedback and ask questions relating to the voluntary redundancy program.

This is an important measure that the University is introducing to minimise involuntary redundancies required as a result of the financial impact of COVID-19. That financial impact has been brought about by the combination of decreased student enrolments, a reduction in revenue from other sources and increased costs related to our response to the pandemic.

The full details of the proposed Voluntary Redundancy (VR) program are accessible on the Pandemic Reset Program site. Staff are encouraged to review the Consultation Paper, additional supporting materials and frequently asked questions. Staff are invited to provide feedback and ask questions relating to the voluntary redundancy program through a ServiceNow form.

An overview of the proposed voluntary redundancy program

  • Staff who are employed on a continuing basis will be eligible to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) in voluntary redundancy. This includes continuing staff who are currently on any form of leave.
  • By submitting an EOI, the staff member initiates a request for the University to decide whether or not their position may be deemed to be genuinely redundant.
  • An EOI is not a commitment by the employee to leave the institution, it is simply the employee’s expression of interest which will then be considered by the University.
  • For an EOI to be accepted, the University must satisfy itself that it meets the requirements for a genuine redundancy as contemplated in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), the University of Melbourne Enterprise Agreement 2018 and (for the purposes of the concessional tax rate) the Australian Taxation Office.
  • If accepted, the University will formally set out the terms of the voluntary redundancy which will include the calculation of entitlements and exit date for the staff members final consideration.
  • All submissions will be treated in strict confidence at each stage of the process.
  • It is important to acknowledge that submitting an EOI will not affect a staff member’s employment relationship with the University - this includes circumstances when staff decide to withdraw their expression of interest or if it is declined by the University where the position is not deemed to be redundant.

Important information about voluntary redundancy payments

  • All voluntary redundancy payments will be identical to payments for involuntary redundancies, as set out in Clauses 2.21 (Academics) and 3.27 (Professional Staff) of the Enterprise Agreement.
  • All voluntary redundancy payments will be taxed at the same concessional rate as involuntary redundancy payments.

Next steps and timing

Subject to the University’s final decision following consultation, staff will be invited to submit an EOI from Thursday 5 November until Friday 13 November and further updates will be provided as we progress through the consultation period.

As outlined in the Vice-Chancellor’s update on 24 September, the University is still facing a significant loss of revenue over the next three years and needs to find savings to return to a financially stable position on an ongoing basis. This means we must reduce the University’s annual operating costs and resize its operations to match the reduced revenue on a yearly basis. When seeking savings, the University must mitigate risks to its strategically agreed future teaching and research and set itself up to thrive in the post COVID-19 world.

As a result, we have sequenced the elements of the Pandemic Reset Program to enable voluntary redundancies to be implemented first before we then progress other changes that will likely involve involuntary redundancies.

The following overarching principles have been explicitly defined and agreed by the University Executive and are guiding our approach to the entire Pandemic Reset Program. They are:

  • Support and treat all staff with respect
  • Ensure our response reflects our commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Maintain the quality and academic integrity of our teaching, learning and research
  • Communicate openly and honestly and in as timely a manner as practicable
  • Balance our immediate financial challenges with our Advancing Melbourne objectives
  • Take a university-wide approach for the benefit of the whole University
  • Make decisions based on evidence
  • Comply with all legislative and regulatory obligations

We appreciate that many of you have been seeking further information in relation to the voluntary redundancy program for some time, and we thank you for your patience. We encourage all eligible staff to review the information provided on the Pandemic Reset Program website and to share any feedback or questions you may have.

On a separate matter, the University’s application to the ATO to have the proposed Senior Academic Enhanced Retirement Scheme formally recognised as an eligible scheme allowing generous concessional tax rates is progressing. We will provide detail advice on this upon approval by the ATO.

Mark Considine  and Jim McCluskey