University makes $6.5m in redundancy payments this year

Six and a-half million dollars was paid out in redundancy money by the University of Otago this year — more than the previous four years combined.

In total, the university has paid out more than $12 million in redundancy payments since 2015. In 2015, nearly $1.7 million was paid out in redundancy, and in 2016 that figure dropped down to $1.035 million. In 2017 $2.8 million was paid out, and this month the 2018 figure given by the university was $6.5 million. The university’s support services review has been going since 2015, and since it started 166 people have chosen to take voluntary redundancy.

Most staff were originally due to know what was happening in their jobs by June 2018, but yesterday human resources director Kevin Seales said there was ‘‘a very small number of staff’’ still discussing their employment situation with the university. It was unclear how many staff were still negotiating, and Tertiary Education Union Dunedin organiser Shaun Scott could not be reached for comment yesterday afternoon. 

Mr Seales said the vast majority of the 121 actual staff departures so far were achieved through voluntary redundancy.

However there was small number — 13 people — who had been made redundant.

Of the 65 staff given the option in May of choosing to take a position further down the payscale, or take redundancy, 59 were confirmed into new roles, and the remaining six chose to take redundancy. Staff who accept redeployment to a role at a lower level received salary protection, retaining their previous level of remuneration for a period of two years.

No-one affected by the review had raised any matters with the Employment Relations Authority, Mr Seales said.

‘‘The vast majority of staff departures were achieved through offering voluntary redundancy, meaning most of those who wanted to, could continue to work for the university.

‘‘The university is fortunate to retain people with these skills and experience, as many staff opted to be redeployed.

‘‘For context, the last snapshot taken of total staff working for the University was in 2017 in the University’s annual report, in which it was stated that the university’s professional [non-academic] staff numbered 2400.’’ 

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