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Taking action in higher education

Breakthrough on age discrimination for university lecturers - a wake up call for other employers

22 September 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

After a determined campaign by members and officials of UCU, an agreement of sector wide significance for older staff facing redundancy has been reached this week at Liverpool John Moores University.

Staff aged over 60 who are facing redundancy are to be offered the same enhanced redundancy terms offered to those below the normal age for retirement. This is in addition to being able to access the pension they will be entitled to.

An offer of three times the statutory redundancy entitlement - initially made only to staff under 60, as an incentive to take voluntary redundancy - has been extended to staff over 60.

A statement on behalf of the university acknowledged the influence of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 and explained: 'Changes to the regulations from 1 October will permit an enhanced Voluntary Severance Scheme to be available to the over 60s'.

An invitation has since been issued by LJMU Personnel to all academic staff over 60, presenting the opportunity to apply for enhanced voluntary severance.

UCU regional support official, Heather Jones, who led the negotiations, said: 'Our members are delighted. We could not accept that some staff should receive less favourable treatment because of their age. We don't want any redundancies but if they are to happen we want a level and fair playing field for all staff.'

UCU head of equality and employment rights, Roger Kline, said: 'We welcome this agreement, which is one of the first signs that higher education employers are improving their treatment of staff as a result of the new equality regulations regarding age.

'The UK Government introduced these statutory rights at the last possible moment and in the weakest possible manner and too many employers are seeking to avoid their responsibilities by making the narrowest possible interpretation of these weak statutory changes. However, this agreement is a sign that some employers are waking up to their responsibilities. It should be a wake up call to others.'

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, due to come into effect on 1 October, outlaw direct and indirect discrimination - including less favourable treatment - on the basis of age.

UCU has issued a briefing on the age regulations (.pdf)

Further information

Heather Jones (further information on the local Liverpool John Moores University agreement): 0161 7723 7011

Roger Kline (general views on implementation of the age regulations in both further and higher education): 07976 207352

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