71 Laurier employees accepted for voluntary retirement
As of April 1, 71 employees have been accepted by Wilfrid Laurier University’s voluntary retirement incentives program.
The purpose of the program is to encourage faculty and staff to voluntarily take an early retirement between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2017. They are encouraged to retire from the university for reasons such as base budget reductions and to avoid further layoffs.
The 71 employees consist of 41 faculty and 30 staff and managers.
“I think most people know the university does have to reduce its budget over the next couple of years and sort of costs associated with our operating budget,” said Pamela Cant, Laurier’s assistant vice-president of human resources. “And a huge part of our operating budget is salaries and benefits, so what we wanted to do is offer a program to try to avoid layoffs.”
Those who were accepted by the retirement program stem from multiple faculties.
Rudy Eikelboom, professor and chair of the psychology department, said only three people from psychology applied out of five who were eligible. All three were accepted.
Eikelboom, who did not apply to the program, said interest in early retirement depends on a number of reasons, such as when and why staff came into the program.
“There’s all sorts of factors that are above and beyond the actual salary or the actual particulars of the program that will determine if a person is interested in it or not,” said Eikelboom.
According to Cant, this program will either allow managers and administration at the university to decide whether or not to replace a job position. When the person in this position leaves, the managers can either achieve their base budget reduction by not filling the position, or replace them part-time.
“They may replace them in just a different way, maybe an opportunity to restructure an area of people leaving and make things streamline or make things more efficient,” said Cant.
The university will also be allowed to align faculty resources more closely with student enrollment patterns. If a department is declining in student enrollment, faculty positions could be reallocated to an area of higher admission.
According to Cant, so far the university has received positive feedback from the participants of the program.
“For the people who aren’t participating, I think they understand the need for the university to try to manage our budget reductions in a way that hopefully will help eliminate the negative impact on people,” said Cant.
Cant explained those interested in alternative working arrangements, such as reduced hours, are encouraged by the university to come forward.
“I’ve actually had two people in my department who’ve done that, who’ve opted to take reduced hours and they’re quite happy with it and it’s helped me manage my budget a little bit better,” she said.
Eikelboom also noted that people who have decided to accept the program are happy with the opportunity to take advantage of it.
“We had three people who retired last year and my suspicion is that if they had known this package was coming, they might have stayed an extra year and benefitted an extra two years of salary by doing that,” said Eikelboom.