Western staff offered retirement incentives

40 candidates apply for package

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Staff at Western are being given a better opportunity to retire and move on to greener pastures.

A new early retirement package has been made available to staff at Western. The package allows for staff to have up to the first 40 weeks of their retirement paid for by the school.

“[The program was put in place] to ensure that people who were thinking of retiring will commit to it,” Jane O’Brien, associate vice-president of human resources at Western, said.

The goal of the program, she said, is to minimize the number of layoff notices the university may need to distribute.

To qualify for early retirement, staff members should have their age and years of service add up to 75 and already be eligible to retire.

“[The applicants] had to have service of a certain length with the institution and be eligible to retire,” O’Brien said. Thus far, 40 staff members have applied for the voluntary retirement incentive.

The weekly amount received by former staff would be dependant on how long the employee had worked for the university and their salary at the time of retirement. How long they are compensated would depend on how long they have worked for the institution.

The offer is open to full-time employees who are members of Western’s Professional and Managerial Association or the University of Western Ontario Staff Association. The retirement incentive will only be offered to them this year.

“It [will] create savings [for Western],” O’Brien said, adding the final savings count could not be calculated until the final decisions are made by employees. Successful applicants have until March 31 to take advantage of the program.

O’Brien said the university is also looking to create a more flexible work environment for staff. This is being done in hopes that employees who do not wish to retire can continue working, while still allowing the school to save money.

Faculty phase-outs are being structured differently, however.

“[The new retirement package] has not been offered to faculty, we have been offered a modified phase retirement package,” Mike Carroll, president of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association, said.

The modified phased retirement package for faculty has currently been offered to allow them to decrease their workload during one to three years before they fully retire. The original retirement package allowed for a faculty member to be phased out over a three-year period.

However, the new modified phased program is currently only available to faculty who are at or above retirement age. It will also only be available to faculty for this year.

“We have been suggesting that the administration offer meaningful early retirement,” Carroll added. “That would offer serious financial incentives if [faculty] are willing to retire.”

Carroll said a package would need to take into account the decreased pension funds available to retired staff, which he said was largely caused by the decreased value of investments, made with pensions as part of an employee’s retirement strategy.

Individuals interested in learning more about the Western’s budget can attend a second town hall meeting taking place on Monday, March 30 in Rm. 1R40 of the Richard Ivey School of Business starting at 3 p.m.

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