Arts and Humanities voluntary severance scheme

At 3pm on 5 April 2023, members in the Arts & Humanities received a communication from HR, addressed to them personally, inviting them to consider applying for the now-reopened Voluntary Severance scheme. We have understandably received a number of anxious members from colleagues that they feel individually targeted or pressured to apply for Voluntary Severance.

We would like to reiterate:

  1. You are not being targeted personally or individually. This named message went out to all academic members of the Arts and Humanities and is not personal to you.
  2. The message from HR is not an official notification that your role is at risk of redundancy. If, over the coming months, you receive a personalised communication that looks like an official notification that your post is at risk of redundancy, please contact Kester Richardson-Dawes (krichardson-dawes@UCU.ORG.UK) as at this point caseworker support becomes essential.
  3. You should not feel pressured by this communication into applying for Voluntary Severance if you do not actually wish to leave your role. The email from HR was an announcement that the Voluntary Severance scheme has re-opened; it is not a material change in our position and does not change existing agreements that we have which rule out compulsory redundancies (CRs).
  4. If you are invited to a meeting with your line manager or anyone else to discuss either Voluntary Severance or Redeployment, contact us to arrange for a UCU rep to be in attendance. Do not verbally express an interest in Voluntary Severance or Redeployment, if you do not wish to pursue these routes. A standard safe response to this is “I will go away and think about these options and get back to you, I am not expressing an interest now”.
  5. Your strength and commitment to action in defence of your work means that UCU have secured a commitment from senior management that there will be no CRs. This is because we together, as UCU, have shown through our local ballot results that we are prepared to take action in defence of teaching, research and scholarship at Kent.

We have concerns about the approach taken to communicating with colleagues in this case, and questions about the proposed “cost savings” identified in individual subject-areas in yesterday’s email. We will be taking up these concerns with University management and insisting that unnecessary anxiety and pressure must not be placed on our members.