Update on major issues | University of Oxford

Update on major issues

This page contains brief information on a number of key issues affecting University staff:

  • Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA)
  • Statute XII consultation
  • Changes to USS

Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA)

Updated 22 September 2016

Background
The University has operated an EJRA of 30 September before the 68th birthday for all academic and academic-related staff since October 2011. The policy was introduced following changes in national legislation which removed the default retirement age. It was agreed that the EJRA would operate for an initial period of ten years, with an interim review after five years.

The EJRA is intended as a means of supporting a number of aims, including refreshing the workforce to sustain Oxford's position on the international stage, maintaining opportunities for career progression across the generations, and promoting equality and diversity.

The policy includes an exceptions procedure, under which individuals may apply to extend their employment beyond the EJRA. Applications are considered by the EJRA Committee, with a right of appeal to the University's Appeal Court - the internal review body which hears appeals against dismissals of academic and academic-related staff for retirement.  

As reported in the Gazette of 25 September 2014, the University’s Appeal Court heard such an appeal in Michaelmas term 2014 and raised some issues regarding the EJRA policy and procedure. Following the appeal Council approved revisions to the Aims and Procedure of the EJRA in order to address these issues and to take account of developing case law.

Review of the EJRA
A working party to review the EJRA was established by Council in July 2015. It began work in Michaelmas 2015 and is due to report in Hilary 2017 once it has had the opportunity to review the data from the full five-year period of operation of the EJRA.

The working party will consider the following issues in the context of the latest case law and an evidence-based analysis of the policy's impact over a five-year period: i) the extent to which the EJRA is achieving the Aims; ii) whether the EJRA is appropriately set at the 30 September before an individual’s 68th birthday; and iii) whether the policy is applied to the right staff groups.

EJRA review - open meetings
As part of the review process, three open meetings are being held to allow members of Congregation and staff to hear directly from members of the working party and to feed in their views. The meetings are designed to serve as an informal forum for gathering views. Formal consultation on the proposals resulting from the review will take place next year.

The one-hour meetings will take place in October and November in venues across Oxford. Further details and booking information can be found on the EJRA review website. The website also includes a set of Q&As.

If you would like to send a question to the working party in advance of the meetings, or if you are unable to attend the meetings but would like to submit comments for consideration by the working party, please email them to ejra.review@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Further information
Further information about the EJRA, the review and the open meetings can be found on the EJRA review website.

Statute XII consultation

Updated 1 June 2016

Congregation met on 31 May to consider the amended legislative proposal concerning Statute XII, the statute which governs matters such as discipline, dismissal and grievance procedures for all University staff of grade 6 and above.

The amended legislative proposal was approved on a division: 82 votes in favour; 4 votes against. 

Further information
The legislative proposal and a transcript of the debate are on the Congregation website. Further details about the three consultations on Statute XII, together with a set of Q&As, are available on the Statute XII consultation website

Changes to USS

Updated 14 March 2016

Changes are being made to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) in order to address the scheme’s funding deficit.

The changes, which will be introduced in phases from 1 April 2016, include the end of final salary accrual, the introduction of career revalued benefits for all members (on salary up to a threshold), and a new defined contribution section of the scheme. At the same time the amount members pay for those benefits will increase. 

Background
The last triennial valuation of the scheme as at 31 March 2011 showed that USS’s liabilities exceeded its assets by £2.9 billion, and changes to benefits and contribution rates were made as a result. A triennial valuation of the pension scheme’s assets and liabilities has recently been carried out, which confirmed that the funding deficit had deteriorated significantly. The deficit stood at approximately £13bn as at 31 March 2014, based on current benefit arrangements and the USS trustee’s initial proposed assumptions.

Proposal for reform
In January 2015 a joint proposal for reform of the pension scheme was agreed by the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), which comprises equal numbers of representatives of Universities UK (for the employers) and the University and College Union.

Current members and eligible non-members of USS were consulted on the proposed changes between 16 March and 22 May 2015. The 90 responses received from Oxford staff were submitted to USS, together with a commentary written by the University in conjunction with the Oxford UCU. In light of the responses received from employers and members, some modifications were made to the proposals.

Changes to USS
Detailed information about the changes and when they will be implemented is available on the USS For the Future website. The site is designed to guide members through the phases of scheme changes; it also contains a benefits illustrator to enable you to estimate your retirement benefits.

Further information
•    Further information about the reform and consultation process is on the USS reform website.
•    Detailed information about the changes is on the USS For the Future website.
•    For general queries about USS, contact the Pensions Office at USS@admin.ox.ac.uk or on (6)16067.