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Redundancy, redeployment & retrenchment procedures for academic staff

Redundancy, redeployment & retrenchment procedures for academic staff

Introduction | Proposal to disestablish an occupied post | The consultation process on the proposal to disestablish a post(s) |
Process to be followed once the decision to disestablish an occupied post or posts is taken | Severance pay in the event of retrenchment

  1. Introduction

    The processes outlined in this document are designed to deal with the employee relations implications of the disestablishment of occupied posts. For strategic restructuring proposals the relevant university bodies (e.g. strategic planning committee, faculty boards, Senate or Council) must agree that the proposal is worth pursuing before the employee relations implications are considered, and before consultations with the affected or potentially affected staff members need to begin in terms of this procedure.

    All academic post vacancies require a reconsideration of operational need before they are filled at any level. A Dean may decide to disestablish an unoccupied post, but any proposal to disestablish an occupied post (or posts) could result in the retrenchment of staff. The chairperson of the Employee Relations Management Committee (ERMC) has the final authority regarding the retrenchment of staff. The process detailed below must be followed (there are two separate processes related to two separate decisions).

    The first decision concerns the post or posts, thus if the first decision is to disestablish an occupied post or posts, the second decision concerns what happens to the staff member(s) in the post(s).

    The Labour Relations Act, 1995, recognises that an employer may need to terminate contracts of employment because of operational requirements. The act defines "operational requirements" as requirements based on "the economic, technological, structural or similar needs of an employer." The act also requires that a fair procedure be followed and sets out certain requirements. The procedure detailed below has been set up according to the requirements of the act and by UCT's decision-making structures, authorities, customs and policies.

  2. Proposal to disestablish an occupied post
    1. The origin of the proposal to disestablish an occupied post must be the Dean or an officer designated by the Vice Chancellor. The relevant university bodies (e.g. strategic planning committee, faculty boards, Senate or Council) must agree that the proposal is worth pursuing before the employee relations implications are considered, and before consultations with staff members need to begin in terms of this procedure.
    2. The proposal must include
      1. the full rationale for the proposed disestablishment, including the academic consequences.
      2. the alternatives considered and reasons for their rejection.
      3. an endorsement from the relevant UCT committees indicating that the proposal is worth pursuing.
    3. The Chair of the ERMC shall then consider the proposal and decide on one of the following courses of action:
      1. Refer the proposal back for further motivation and/or for consideration by another university body or other university bodies.
      2. In some cases, should the ER implications be considered such that the chair of the ERMC believes the proposal should not be pursued, the Chair of the ERMC will refer his/her concerns to the originator of the proposal. Where agreement cannot be reached, the Vice Chancellor will decide whether or not to proceed to the next stage of consulting staff (i.e. paragraph 2c iii).
      3. The relevant HOD and/or Dean, together with a member of the Human Resources Department, will be asked to start the consultation process.
  3. The consultation process on the proposal to disestablish a post(s)
    1. The HOD and/or Dean and a staff member of the HR department shall meet and brief the affected staff and his/her/their representative(s) on the proposal, including reasons for the proposed change. They shall give the affected staff up to four weeks to make representations on the proposal. Should some of the affected staff be on approved period of absence, the consultation should be organised so that it does not prejudice them e.g. communication via letter if someone is on overseas sabbatical.
    2. The staff concerned have the right to be assisted by a representative of their choice at all consultations outlined in this procedure, as long as the representative(s) are members of UCT staff.
    3. A member of the Academics' Union executive may be included in the above meeting if the staff member is a member of the Academics' Union, and if the staff member agrees. Otherwise the Academics' Union will be sent a written proposal and a member of the HR department will consult with the union. The union will be invited to make representations on the proposal within four weeks.
    4. The Dean and HOD shall consider all such representations, and the Dean may amend or withdrawn the original proposal. The Dean shall inform the affected staff and the Academics' Union, in writing, of their final proposal, giving reasons for rejecting or accepting representations made. This communication will take place at least two weeks before the Chair of the ERMC considers the proposal.

      (Note: for major restructuring exercises a substantially revised proposal would have to be re-submitted to the standard University authorities again.)

    5. The affected staff and/or his/her/their representative(s) and/or the Academics' Union shall have the right to make written representations to the Chair of the ERMC within the time frame referred to in 3d.
    6. The Chair of the ERMC shall consider the proposal (i.e. either the original or revised proposal) and any staff and Academics' Union representations before making a decision. If he/she approves the proposal to disestablish an occupied post, the following process shall be set in motion.
  4. Process to be followed once the decision to disestablish an occupied post or posts is taken

    Where a selection of staff is required, the process outlined in 4a must be followed. Where no such selection is necessary the process detailed in 4b may be followed directly.

    1. Process when staff must be selected.

      This process must be followed when the decision to disestablish one or more posts is not linked to specific staff, but where such a selection is made from a pool of possible staff . The process involves consultations with staff, their representatives and the Academics' Union about the selection of the individuals who will be retrenched should alternatives to retrenchment not be found. The process must include the following steps:

      1. The Dean and/or HOD (assisted by an HR department staff member) shall notify, in writing, the pool of possible staff and the Academics' Union that a certain number of posts are to be disestablished.
      2. Criteria for selecting staff for retrenchment must be substantially fair and reasonable and may include

        operational needs
        relevant experience
        qualifications
        skills and training
        length of service ( i.e. the "last in, first out" policy)
        performance

        Criteria may take into account UCT's employment equity plan.

      3. The Dean and/or HOD assisted by an HR department staff member will consult with the group on which criteria they believe should be applied. The agreed criteria (which may not necessarily be drawn from those listed above) will then be used to select the affected staff.
      4. The Dean and/or HOD assisted by an HR department staff member will propose staff based on the above criteria. The individuals and their representatives, as well as the Academics' Union, shall be given up to three weeks in which to make representations (including representations on the manner in which the criteria have been applied).
      5. The Dean shall consider all representations and may amend the original proposal on staff to be selected. The Dean shall inform, in writing, the affected staff, his/her/their representative(s) and the Academics' Union of the outcome of the representations made (giving reasons for rejecting or accepting any such representations) at least one week before the Chair of the ERMC considers the proposal.
      6. The affected staff, their representatives and the Academics' Union may make direct representation, in writing to the Chair of the ERMC within one week of being presented with the Dean's recommendation. The Chair of the ERMC shall then decide the matter.
      7. The Dean shall notify the individual/s selected, and the process set out in paragraph 4b shall then be followed.
    2. Process when no selection from a group of staff is required or when staff have been selected as per the process set out in 4a above.

      If the Chair of the ERMC decides to disestablish an occupied post and this post is linked to a specific staff member, the process thereafter requires consultations with the incumbent and his/her representative in order to seek an alternative to retrenchment. If such an alternative is not found the retrenchment needs to be discussed. This process must include the following steps:

      1. The incumbent of the post will be notified, in writing, of the decision of the Chair of the ERMC and given.
        1. notice of the intention that his/her appointment will be terminated (i.e. that he/she will be retrenched) if an alternative is not found.
        2. an invitation to make proposals about alternatives to retrenchment, within a three week period.
        3. details of the estimated severance pay and estimated retirement benefit that would be paid out in the event of retrenchment.
      2. The Academics' Union will be notified, in writing, of the decision of the Chair of the ERMC, and invited to make representations regarding any feasible alternatives to the retrenchment of the staff member within three weeks.
      3. The HOD and/or Dean and an HR department staff member shall consult with the incumbent of the post and his/her representative and shall consider alternatives to retrenchment, such as redeployment; a temporary lay-off (with or without rights) or short-time work at correspondingly reduced salary levels.

        (Note: redeployment of academic staff will not be a common viable option due to the specialised nature of most academic work.)

      4. Having consulted with the incumbent and his/her representative and having considered any representations, the Dean shall make a recommendation to the Chair of the ERMC. The recommendation will be sent to the incumbent and (if the staff member has no objection) the Academics' Union. The incumbent, his/her representative and the Academics' Union may make direct representations, in writing, to the Chair of the ERMC within one week of the Dean's recommendation being sent to the Chair of the ERMC.
      5. If no alternative to retrenchment is found, formal notice will be given of the decision to terminate the appointment. The contractual notice period (normally six months) will apply unless the chair of the ERMC decides, on good reason, to give more notice.
      6. The notice to retrench may be withdrawn if an appropriate alternative post is found in the first half of the notice period. After this time, the incumbent will have the option of accepting either an alternative post offered, or the retrenchment package.
  5. Severance pay in the event of retrenchment
    1. Severance pay will be a lump sum payment. Staff will have the following options:
      1. 5% x service x remuneration package up to a maximum of one year's remuneration and no gratuity for study and research leave.

        OR

      2. 4% x service x remuneration package up to a maximum of one year's remuneration and a gratuity for Study and Research leave (maximum 4.5 months).

        OR

      3. one week's remuneration for each year of service (no ceiling).

      Definitions

      • "Remuneration package" includes the salary budget, the medical aid budget, the UCTRF budget, HOD allowances, and the cash value of any payment in kind that forms part of the staff member's standard remuneration. It excludes
        1. gratuities.
        2. allowances paid for the purposes of enabling an employee to work (e.g. travel allowance).
        3. any discretionary payments not directly related to the employee's hours of work or work performance.
      • "Years of continuous service" will be taken as years rounded to one decimal place (i.e. the definition in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act).
      • "Gratuity for study and research leave" will be in respect of the balance of unutilised study and research leave standing to the credit of a staff member. It will be calculated on the basis of three-eighths of the staff member's monthly pensionable salary at the date of retrenchment for the period of his/her leave credit, up to a maximum of four and a half months' salary.
    2. In addition, the following will be due:
      1. payments from the relevant pension or retirement fund
      2. pro rata service bonus (where applicable)
      3. pay in lieu of annual leave owing
    3. Staff are required to work their notice period but will be granted reasonable time off from duty to seek alternative employment.
    4. Staff will be given free access to courses offered by UCT's Information and Communication Technology Services Department and the Staff Learning Programme (offered by Human Resources Development), for 12 months from the date of termination of service.
    5. Dependants of a retrenched staff member, who were studying at UCT prior to the termination of the staff member's contract, will continue to pay the staff tuition rate for up to three years or until the current course/degree has been completed (whichever is the shorter period).
    6. Staff will receive R1000 as a contribution towards costs incurred for financial and other forms of advice and counselling. This may however be utilised at the staff member's discretion.

Page last updated: 26 June 2012