Notices

  • Thursday 4 June 2015
  • NO. 5099
  • VOL. 145

General Notices

Review of the operation and future of the EJRA

Clarification of the Aims and changes to the Procedure of the EJRA

In the Gazette of 14 May 2015, the Personnel Committee reported on progress with its proposal to conduct a thoroughgoing review of the first five years of operation of the Employer-Justified Retirement Age (EJRA. The review is to start in Michaelmas term 2015 and report in 2016/17. The committee reported also that it had developed proposals for the interim to clarify the Aims of the EJRA and to revise the Procedures for managing applications for extended employment, with the intention of introducing these changes in time for the next round of applications. This work was undertaken in response to comment made by the University’s Appeal Court as reported in the Gazette of 25 September 2014 and in the light of subsequent legal advice.

Following consultations with the divisions and Legal Panel of Conference of Colleges, Personnel Committee put its proposals to Council on 18 May 2015. The proposals approved by Council are summarised in this Notice. It gives further information about the review and describes the main revisions to the Aims and Procedure with comment on the underlying rationale and the transitional arrangements for staff who may currently wish to seek extended employment.

1. Review of the operation and future of the EJRA

At its meeting on 18 May 2015, Council considered the proposed remit and timing of the review and approved the composition of the working party to conduct the review. Council intends to give its final approval to the membership of the working party and its remit at its meeting in 9th week (on 22 June 2015), and those details will be published as soon as possible thereafter.

Composition of the working party

The working party will have the following composition:

  • a senior representative from each of the four academic divisions;
  • a senior representative from ASUC;
  • a senior representative from UAS;
  • a member of Council elected to Council by Congregation;
  • a member with specific responsibility for equality and diversity matters (eg the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Advocate for Diversity); and
  • two representatives of the Conference of Colleges, one from the Senior Tutors’ Committee and one from the Legal Panel.

The membership of the working party will be chosen so as to include at least two members of the Personnel Committee who have experience of considering EJRA applications under the current process. It will also include individuals with a spread of ages, and at least one-third of its members will be women and one-third will be men. To ensure a disinterested consideration of the EJRA, the working party for the review will not include members of the original working party that devised the EJRA (this will exclude the present Chair of the Personnel Committee). Once the membership has been agreed, one member will be invited by Personnel Committee to chair the review. The HR Director will service the working party and ensure that it receives legal advice as required.

Timing and remit for the review

The working party will be established to start work in Michaelmas term 2015 by overseeing the collection of the data and other information that it will need. Since the default retirement age was abolished with effect from 1 October 2011, full five-year data allowing analysis of trends will not be available until late 2016. Having collected and considered data on the operation and effects of the EJRA policy, and with reference to developing case law, it is proposed that the working party will report to Personnel Committee during 2016/17 on:

  • the extent to which the EJRA is meeting the Aims identified when the policy was established, and thus can be justified in law;
  • whether the EJRA is appropriately set at the 30 September before an individual’s 68th birthday; and
  • whether the policy is applied to the right staff groups.

These considerations will take account of:

  • internal data about the staff groups covered by the EJRA and about those who have applied to have their employment extended beyond the EJRA;
  • the experience of other higher education institutions operating without a default retirement age both in the UK and abroad; and
  • the views of stakeholders – at an appropriate point with the approval of the Personnel Committee and Council, the divisions, faculties and departments, Conference of Colleges, Congregation, all University staff and the Oxford branch of the UCU will be consulted about their views on the future of the EJRA.

The working party will develop outline proposals to the Personnel Committee on the future of the EJRA, including whether it should be retained and, if so, whether it should be revised. Personnel Committee will make recommendations to Council which will then decide on subsequent action including consultation on the emerging proposals.

Data collection

The first substantial task to be undertaken by the working party will be the collation and analysis of data, both internal and external, about the impact of operating with and without an EJRA.
The subcommittee that worked on the EJRA for Personnel Committee during Hilary term 2015 considered a draft data specification for this project and provided advice to Personnel Services on the priorities for data collection. Some internal data seen as important by the subcommittee require amendments and additions to be made to the Core HRIS system (the University's staff database) as well as extensions to the HRIS team’s current reporting capability. This work has been started in readiness for the review.

2. Clarification of the Aims of the EJRA

The review of the EJRA will include a thorough examination of the Aims in the context of the latest case law and an evidence-based analysis of the policy’s impact on the Aims over a five-year period. In the meantime, some reordering and minor editing of the Aims have been made where experience, including that in the University Appeal Court, has indicated that clarification is needed.

The revised Aims can be seen in full at www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/end/retirement/revisedejra/revaim.

3. Revisions to the EJRA Procedure

The changes to the Procedure have been recommended by Personnel Committee and approved by Council as an appropriate and necessary response to issues that were raised by the University's Appeal Court. The revisions also take account of relevant case law.

The principles addressed by the revisions are:

  • ensuring the objectivity of the considerations for making decisions on applications for extensions;
  • the need to assess applications in accordance with considerations that do not undermine the Aims;
  • the need to assess applications in a context that promotes fairness in their handling; and
  • the need to reduce the perception arising from the current process that the views of departments on individual applications are the most influential factor in the final outcome.

The main amendments to the Procedure are as follows.

  • Applications for extended employment will be approved only in very exceptional circumstances in which it is clear both that the extended employment of the particular employee is necessary in order to ensure the completion of a specific project or duties1 (or to gain the full benefit of a project already completed) and that the extension will not undermine the Aims.
  • Applications will be considered by a broadly constituted eight-member EJRA Committee with fixed membership. This new committee will meet twice yearly and consider the majority of applications in gathered fields. The circumstances in which the Committee will agree to consider cases by correspondence are limited, in order to ensure that the vast majority of cases can be considered as a gathered field. This compares with present practice in which cases are often taken individually by an EJRA Panel of three members drawn from a larger group. The new procedure has been devised to promote fairness and uniformity in decision-making.
  • The timescales for applications are simplified: instead of there being different deadlines for different staff groups, all staff must apply by one year before their EJRA date and none may apply more than two years in advance, except in clearly delineated circumstances related to applications for research grants requiring extended employment.
  • The responsibility for submitting applications for extended employment has been transferred from departments and divisions to individuals, who are charged with first considering, with their head of department or suitable alternative, whether any non-employment option (for instance, an honorary research agreement) might suffice in place of employment beyond the EJRA.
  • If an extension in employment is to be granted, it is expected that, in all but very rare cases, those who hold permanent posts would need, as a minimum, to step out of their current post into a newly created, fixed-term post, on a grade appropriate to the duties to be delivered. This is to make it possible for their substantive post to be refilled, thereby reducing any negative impact of the extended employment on the Aims of the EJRA.
  • In all but very rare cases, the applicant will have secured grant or other funding to cover their full costs (ie including on-costs) while in employment beyond the EJRA. When the proposed extension of employment involves reduced duties or working-time, it could be relevant to consider the option of flexible retirement which will allow the individual to take part of his or her pension to supplement a reduced salary.
  • Forms will be provided to ensure that all necessary aspects of the proposal have been considered and to improve standardisation of submissions and to ensure fairness.
  • Before applications are considered by the Committee, they will be forwarded to departments and divisions in gathered fields for comment by appropriately convened committees. Departmental comment will be factual rather than evaluative. Divisions will comment at the appropriate divisional-level committee on the overall strategic importance of the proposed duties or project in each case.
  • The applicant will be given opportunity to respond to these comments in writing before the complete set of documentation is passed to the EJRA Committee for consideration. The provisions in the current Procedure for cases contested by the individual and the department or division are not needed in the new proposals, since departments and divisions will no longer be asked to indicate support for a case, but rather to provide factual comment on specified aspects of the application.
  • The guidance on issues that will be taken into account in decision-making on applications has been revised, in order to improve objectivity.
    • A new consideration focuses on the specific project or duties to be delivered in the course of the proposed extension and seeks to establish the strategic importance of those duties, whether anyone else could deliver them, whether the applicant could deliver them in a non-employment capacity, or whether they could be delivered on a shorter contract or one with fewer working hours.
    • A new clause refers to the occurrence of a need in connection with a particular event or circumstance that necessitates an extension (for instance, the REF).
    Senior academics and research staff in the University will often be world-leaders in their fields: the offer of distinguished scholarship is not a relevant consideration for the purposes of the extension procedure, and it is stressed that testimonials are not relevant.
  • A second extension in employment will only be granted if it is essential to address unforeseeable circumstances that have frustrated the purpose for which the original extension was granted.
    The possibility of granting an extension in post beyond the EJRA for prospective appointees to the most senior posts has been removed.

The revised Procedure can be seen in full at www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/end/retirement/revisedejra/revproc.

4. Transitional arrangements

Under the current Procedure, the 18-month deadline for receipt of applications for academic staff seeking extension in employment beyond a due retirement date of 30 September 2015 has passed. However, under the revised procedures, that notice period is reduced to 12 months. Academic staff due to retire on 30 September 2016 will have a new opportunity to seek an extension to their employment provided their applications are received by 30 September 2015. Any such applications will be considered according to the revised Procedure and will therefore be referred to the first gathered field exercise (which is expected to be held during Michaelmas term 2015).

Some academic-related staff may currently be preparing applications for extended employment beyond their due retirement date of 30 September 2016 (the current deadline for these applications being 30 September 2015): any such applications will be assessed against the considerations published in the current Procedures.

5. Next steps

Detailed guidance on implementation of the revised Procedure, including the forms for use in applications, will be made available by the end of June 2015


1Examples of projects and duties to be completed might include: the completion of a research project which can only be carried out by the individual concerned; the need for an individual to finish a teaching course for which it would not be possible to provide a replacement (for example, when the course is coming to an end).

Encaenia

Sheldonian Theatre

At the Encaenia to be held in the Sheldonian Theatre on 24 June, the Curators of the Theatre propose to allot seats as follows, and subject to availability, to those who apply for tickets:

(a) one visitor's ticket each to Heads of Houses, Canons of Christ Church, members of Council, and certain other persons holding official positions in the University;

(b) one visitor's ticket to each Professor;

(c) one ticket to each member of Convocation (ie any matriculated member of the University on whom any degree of the University has been conferred, or any member of Congregation who does not hold such a degree).

Applications for tickets in the above categories, stating the name and standing of each person for whom a ticket is requested, should be made no later than 10 June to the University Card Office, Examination Schools (email: university.card@ox.ac.uk). For security reasons, all requests for tickets must state the names of the persons for whom the tickets are intended.

Tickets for all other members of the University (ie those who have not been admitted to any degree of the University) will be distributed through college authorities. All applications for tickets in this category should be made to the college authorities and not to the University Card Office.

The gates and entrances to the Theatre will be opened at 10.45am and the proceedings will begin at 11.30am. Holders of tickets are requested to be in their places inside the Theatre by 11.15am.

All current members of the University are required to wear subfusc and full Oxford academic dress. Doctors will wear their robes and other graduates their hoods.

Oxford University Language Centre

Lunchtime Language Courses

Registration is now open for new lunchtime courses in Arabic, French, Italian, German and Spanish at the Oxford University Language Centre, running 22 June—3 July (Weeks 9 and 10) for only £75 per participant.

This is a great opportunity to learn a new language or build on existing skills, whether for research, professional development or just a summer holiday. Email admin@lang.ox.ac.uk for further information and to request an application form.

Appointments

Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences

Dr Damian Rossler, MA ETH Zurich, PhD Paris XIII, has been appointed to the Associate Professorship of Pure Mathematics, Mathematical Institute, in association with a Tutorial Fellowship at Pembroke. From 1 September 2015 until 31 August 2020. Dr Rossler’s research is in the area of arithmetic algebraic geometry, extending also into diverse areas of number theory and geometry as well as model theory.

Dr Melanie Rupflin, PhD ETH Zurich, has been appointed to the Associate Professorship of the Analysis of Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations, Mathematical Institute, in association with a Tutorial Fellowship at Trinity. From 1 September 2015 until 31 August 2020. Dr Rupflin’s research is in the area of geometric analysis.

Visiting Professorships

Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences

The Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Board has conferred the title of Visiting Professor in Engineering Science upon Guatam Kalghatgi, PhD Brist, currently Principal Professional, Saudi Aramco, for a period of 3 years from 26 May 2015.

Electoral Boards

Composition of an Electoral Board

The composition of the electoral board to the post below, proceedings to fill which are currently in progress, is as follows:

Linklaters Professorship of Comparative Law      

  Appointed by
The Principal of Harris Manchester Mr Vice-Chancellor1
The Principal of Brasenose ex officio
Professor R Goodman Social Sciences Division
Professor H Collins Faculty of Law
Professor A Davies Faculty of Law
Professor J Bell Faculty of Law
Professor S Whittaker Council
Professor P Giliker Council
Mr W Swadling Brasenose
1Appointed by Mr Vice-Chancellor under the provisions of Statute IX, Sect 10 and 11.

Musical and other Events

Sheldonian Theatre

English Chamber Orchestra

13 Jun: 350th Anniversary Concerts: Haydn's 'Oxford' Symphony, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Beethoven's Fourth will be performed by the the English Chamber Orchestra. Tickets: www.oxfordplayhouse.com/ticketsoxford/index.aspx#event=19656 or 01865 305305.

Exhibitions

St John's

The college intends to open to the public its collection of medieval vestments on Saturday, 13 June, from 2pm until 5pm. The collection is displayed in the Garden Quadrangle and entrance, free of charge, will be via the Main Lodge.