Glasgow City Council’s HR chief has insisted plans to target over-50s in a redundancy drive are not discriminatory.
Yesterday, the local authority announced it would write to all 3,500 employees over the age of 50 outlining a "guaranteed" voluntary redundancy package should they choose to take it.
But Ian Drummond, executive director, corporate services, told Personnel Today that all employees had been offered voluntary redundancy. Over-50s would also be able to apply for early retirement, which by law can only be offered to that age group.
"The offer is for early retirement for over-50s, and added to that, voluntary redundancy," he said. "Voluntary redundancy will be based on service, not age, and we are prepared to make payments up to 30 weeks."
Drummond said he needed to make about 1,000 job cuts, out of a 17,500-strong workforce. Adding early retirement as an option would minimise any compulsory redundancies the council might have to make, as it adds further incentives for over-50s to retire.
"The council needs to reduce the number of employees we have. My anticipation is that about a third of the over-50s will apply for redundancy," he said.
Glasgow City Council is under pressure to save a minimum of £34 million next year, as central funding is likely to reduce by 12% over three years.
"If I am to lose 1,000 people, what other methods have I got?" he said.
As part of the deal, employees over 50 who already have a pension will receive up to 6.6 extra years’ pension and up to 30 weeks’ redundancy pay. Those without a pension can apply for up to 66 weeks’ redundancy pay.
Staff have until March 2010 to accept the offer, after which the terms will be reduced.
However, Bar Huberman, an employment law editor at XpertHR, warned a mass-exodus of older staff could lead to a skills gap among the workforce. She said: “Older employees tend to have different skills to younger ones, including being better able to cope with stress, whereas younger employees are better at problem solving and can act more quickly. Older employees will also take the invaluable experience gained at the organisation, which could create a wide knowledge gap.”
Drummond said: "We're inviting people to indicate they'd like to go on the [redundancy/ early retirement] package, but this will be timed over the next three years. We have a three year workforce plan so those people who are in posts which we still need won't all leave at once."
A spokesman for the council said: “We have spoken to unions at great length about this. We have offered different packages for different age groups in the past and that hasn’t caused any problems. Anyone can apply for redundancy but we only guarantee it for over-50s.”
*Personnel Today, XpertHR, IRS and Celre are part of the XpertHR Group.