Update on Voluntary Severance (VS) and Voluntary Early Retirement (VER)

The City Council’s Executive Committee and Personnel Committee met this morning to discuss the current financial situation and to agree a package for staff who wish to leave by mutual agreement on a VS or VER package.

UNISON has been successful in improving the tabled offer of the current VS/VER arrangements. The existing scheme allowed a payment of 3 weeks pay per year, capped at 30 weeks. Following repeated representations by UNISON, the cap limit was today increased from 30 to 36 weeks which may make the offer more attractive to some members.

It is likely that many members will also be able to be paid their notice pay, dependent on whether they can be allowed to leave immediately, of up to 12 weeks (subject to 12 years service) as part of their settlement as compensation “for loss of office.” Members who decide to take advantage of Voluntary Retirement may also receive an element of severance pay, as per the formula negotiated above, but will not be entitled to compensation for “loss of office” as they will be moving directly from employment to retirement and therefore be able to access their pension lump sum and annual pension. UNISON has also persuaded the City Council that all VS payments will be paid through COT 3 – Compromise Agreements. This means, in effect, that such payments up to £30,000 will be free of tax and NI. Payments additional to £30,000 will incur tax and NI at the usual rates.

The City Council hope that they can achieve the savings needed of £110 million with a reduction in the workforce of approximately 2,000 Full Time Equivalents (FTE’s) to realise the £70 million savings required.

In response to this the Liberal Democrats have disgracefully called for a 5% pay cut for all staff across the board, which would have a massive impact on low-paid workers. As members will be all too aware, local government staff are not generously paid. They have received no pay increase for the past two years, and will pay more NI and pensions contributions this year. The Branch look forward to Liberal Democrat politicians turning their fire onto the bankers and financial sector that caused the financial crisis, instead of taking cheap shots at teaching assistants, care workers and other dedicated public service workers. Given nationally the LibDems have backed the government’s cuts on our city’s funding and services this is yet another LibDem proposed attack on our members.

Letters will shortly be going out to staff from Personnel advising of individual settlement figures and all applications for VS/VER need to be submitted by the 11th March.

The Branch has organised a meeting on Friday for all City Council Stewards.

We are also in the process of organising workplace meetings and once the timetable has been finalised we will email Stewards with the details and post a copy on this site. Facility time for members to attend has been agreed with travel time where necessary.

As more information is made available the website will be updated so please keep checking over the coming days. Please share this information with other UNISON members who may not have access to a PC.

Pat McDonagh
Branch Secretary

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