UNBC offering early retirement packages

University of Northern British Columbia faculty members are being offered early retirement packages in a bid to lower costs at the university.

In a letter to faculty, UNBC president Daniel Weeks said the intent is to close the salary gap with comparator universities. The overall number of faculty will remain the same, he stressed.

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"If 20 faculty members choose to take advantage of the proposal, 20 new faculty will replace them," Weeks said.

Those interested in taking up the offer must be at least 55 years old and have been at UNBC at least 15 years as of the end of this year. They would receive a month's pay for each year of service to a maximum of 18 months.

The UNBC Faculty Association has agreed to the arrangement. Weeks' letter was issued March 2 and just as bargaining began March 5 on a new contract with the UNBC Faculty Association. The current contract expires on June 30.

"The Faculty Association and University agree that this is as an opportunity for those who have made significant contributions to UNBC over their long, productive careers, while safeguarding those who plan to continue doing so in the future," Weeks said. "Moreover, the ERO [Early Retirement Offer] will provide budget savings to be used exclusively to help close the salary gap through the new compensation framework agreement between the Faculty Association and University."

Faculty originally had until April 30 to apply with the provost approval by May 10. But the deadlines have since been extended to May 15 and May 31.

Those who accept the package have the option of retiring on June 30 or December 30 or no later than June 30, 2020 for those with extenuating circumstances, including program needs.

And, if the number of applications exceed one-third of tenured and continuing members in any department, retirement dates will be staggered to make sure no more than one-third of those positions are vacant at any one time.

As well, $4,000 will be added to the post-retirement fund for every offer that has been accepted.

A similar offer is also in place for the School of Education. Referred to as a voluntary exit package, it has no limits on age and years of service and UNBC is committed to replacing each of those who leave within one year of departured.

The deadline to apply was April 30 and the deadline for provost approval is on Friday.

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