Senior policy at Aarhus BSS

Catalogue for establishing senior staff scheme agreements at the School of Business and Social Sciences.

Adopted 26 November 2013

The senior initiatives at the School of Business and Social Sciences (BSS) are implemented according to a number of specified principles and guidelines, which must form the basis for establishing individual senior agreements.

The general framework for the senior initiatives, including principles and guidelines, has been discussed in the School Liaison Committee (FSU) as well as in the local liaison committees (LSU). On that basis, a catalogue has been prepared for establishing individual agreements on senior staff schemes for academic as well as technical and administrative staff (please note that special rules may apply in connection with senior staff schemes for public servants).

The senior catalogue aims to promote the active work on the local senior initiatives in the individual departments. In this way, the senior catalogue should contribute to creating a clear and familiar framework for working life as a senior at BSS by describing the opportunities for establishing individual agreements.

The senior catalogue also includes advice and guidance as well as staff policy considerations in connection with staff and senior planning.

In addition, the senior catalogue contains guidelines for establishing emeritus staff schemes for academic staff in connection with the employee’s retirement.

The senior catalogue is BSS’ local implementation of Aarhus University’s staff policy, including the sub-policy for seniors, and has been prepared pursuant to the Circular on Senior and Voluntary Severance Schemes.  

1. Staff policy considerations

Due to the their age, a large number of employees at BSS can be considered senior employees, and an increasing number of employees will also become senior employees in the near future (see appendix 1: Overview of age distribution at BSS (Danish)).

BSS wishes to consolidate the development and retention of senior employees who possess experience and competences that are valuable to use, maintain and develop. This is done e.g. by having a targeted focus on staff planning, including senior planning. In this way, the coming years’ generational change can take place in such a way that the individual departments at BSS can take advantage of the special competences, including experience and insight, that senior employees can contribute with.

BSS wishes to consolidate the local senior initiatives, which partly allow the individual employee to remain active until retirement if they wish, and partly allow the senior employees who wish to retire to do so on reasonable terms that benefit both the individual employee and BSS. 

1.1. Senior planning

The senior planning is part of the overall local staff planning, which includes e.g. employment policy as well as recruitment and career planning. As such, the senior planning should be seen in the context of the department’s existing employee mix and budgeting. 

Senior employee interview

The purpose of holding a senior employee interview is for the manager and employee to focus on the employee’s senior plans well in advance by discussing matters concerning retention and development, including expectations and wishes in connection with planning the employee’s third age. The senior plans are discussed regularly and, as a minimum, in connection with the senior employee interview, which is offered to all employees approximately five years prior to retirement age in accordance with Aarhus University’s staff policy. The senior employee interview can form part of the annual SDD.

The need for a senior employee interview is of course decided on a case by case basis, just as the content of the interview will vary depending on the employee’s age and general circumstances. The interview’s point of departure is either development, retention or retirement. The below themes may be part of the interview. Additional suggestions for topics that may be discussed in the senior employee interview have been included for further inspiration.

Themes for the interview: 

  • Workload
  • Work pressure and pace
  • Working hours
  • Special work assignments, e.g. participating in job training/mentor schemes.
  • Exemptions from certain assignments
  • New academic challenges 

Of course, a senior employee interview does not necessarily have to result in a specific agreement on a senior staff scheme. If and when the need for individual senior planning becomes pertinent, the manager and the employee can jointly prepare an actual senior plan in continuation of the senior employee interview. The plan may be prepared as a supplement to the agreement form which the employee completes in continuation of the SDD.

If a senior plan is prepared, it may, among other things, contain a description of the employee’s future tasks. The plan aims to take into account the employee’s wishes in connection with specific tasks as well as plan any gradual increase or reduction in specific tasks.

The senior plan should focus on the senior employee’s opportunity to share their experience and competences with younger employees by e.g. taking on the role of mentor, handling the introduction of younger employees or undertaking other special assignments.

The individual senior plans hereafter become part of the management’s overall staff-related strategies and form the basis for any subsequent establishment of an individual senior staff scheme. 

1.2. Individual senior staff schemes

Senior staff schemes are always established as individual agreements based on a specific assessment of the individual employee’s situation, wishes and priorities as well as the department’s need for qualified task performance and long-term financial and staff planning. This means that senior staff schemes are not automatically established for employees who have reached a certain age and/or seniority.

Senior agreements are negotiated between the head of department and the individual employee, and the agreement is formalised by the local union representative or the union organisation authorised to negotiate. The agreements must always be approved by the dean.

Establishing senior agreements

Aarhus University’s staff policy forms the basis for establishing senior agreements.

The Circular on Senior and Voluntary Severance Schemes provides the opportunity for establishing agreements on: 

  • Gradual reduction of working hours (part-time)
  • Gradual reduction of job responsibilities/lower-ranked position
  • Senior days and retention bonus

To be covered by the circular, a number of conditions must be met. As such, senior agreements relating to salary and pensions must always be authorised by the current rules for establishing senior agreements adopted by the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Central Federation of State Employees.

Senior agreements not covered by the circular can of course also be established. 

Content of individual agreements

The following principles and guidelines must form the basis for establishing individual senior agreements:

  • When establishing senior agreements, the primary focus is the future retention of the employee up until a retirement date (or an expected retirement date).
  • Senior agreements are established on the basis of specific and individual employee and workplace assessments.
  • As a point of departure, senior agreements must always include an end date. The date can be either the agreed date of the employee’s retirement (possibly in connection with establishing an emeritus staff scheme) or a date for renegotiating the agreement. The date is determined based on an assessment of the agreement’s character, scope and specific content. It is recommended that the duration of the agreement is between one and three years. After this period, the agreement may be extended.
  • Establishing a senior staff scheme may be associated with a specific cost to the department. The expense is considered the equivalent of allocating an annual supplement for qualifications. As such, senior staff schemes are funded by local payroll funds, and it is therefore also possible to establish senior agreements as part of the annual pay negotiations.
  • Senior agreements do not affect salaries retroactively, and as such severance pay will not be granted. In case of voluntary retirement in connection with necessary staff reductions, severance pay may be granted in exceptional cases.
  • As a rule, senior agreements which entail a reduction in weekly working hours will result in a equivalent proportional reduction in workload.
  • As a rule, senior agreements which entail a reduction in working hours will not result in the payment of additional pension contributions.
  • When establishing senior agreements which involve changes to tasks and commitments, it must also be discussed whether the change is of such a character that it will result in a proportional change in salary, working hours and/or pension.
  • Agreements on the allocation of senior days are established based on a specific assessment of the employee’s tasks, wishes and competences on the one hand, and the employer’s need to retain the employee and their knowledge and competences on the other (cf. Aarhus University’s staff administrative guidelines).
  • All holidays, including special holidays, are presumed spent prior to spending any allocated senior days. Senior days must be spent in the calendar year in which they are allocated. If not, they are lost.
  • In exceptional cases, a minor retention bonus can be granted. However, this presupposes postponing the end of employment based on the need for the employee to complete a specific and well-defined task.
  • As a point of departure, senior agreements which entail the allocation of senior days, reduced working hours with additional payment of pension contributions or other special financial rights cannot be established if the employee has also taken on paid sideline employment of a significant scope.
  • In special cases, senior agreements can be combined with paid sideline employment. However, this requires that the sideline employment in question is deemed to be in AU’s interest and that the employee provides information on the nature and scope of the sideline employment. 

Procedure for establishing agreements.

The annual SDD or a senior employee interview are suitable opportunities for initiating the dialogue on senior working life and for identifying the individual employee’s needs and wishes and, to some extent, for discussing possible senior initiatives.

  • Senior agreements are established between the head of department and the employee as well as the employee’s union organisation authorised to negotiate/union representative. Senior agreements must be approved by the dean.
  • Senior agreements can be established in combination with partial early retirement pension/partial pension and other possible agreements. In connection with senior agreements, it is important to emphasise that the employee should contact their unemployment insurance fund in advance for advice and guidance on the possibility of combining reduced working hours with partial early retirement pension.

1.3. Emeritus staff scheme

The emeritus staff scheme is intended for academic staff who have retired and who have been employed at AU for the majority of their career. An emeritus staff scheme can be offered to the employee in question, presuming that the employee and the department have a mutual interest in maintaining contact. An employee is appointed emeritus in the job category where they were employed at the time of retirement (professors with special responsibilities (MSO) are employed in the job category of associate professor and will thus be appointed associate professor emeritus upon retirement).

BSS wishes to establish emeritus staff schemes with employees who still want to continue participating actively in department and university life. It is expected that the employee demonstrates an interest in and affiliation with the department  by attributing any research publications to the department and through these becoming part of the department’s research output. In addition, an emeritus can offer to e.g. carry out supervision, conduct or guest lectures, provide assistance for exercises etc. for the department.

No remuneration is provided in connection with an emeritus staff scheme, but direct costs in connection with representative tasks for the department are covered.

By establishing an emeritus staff scheme, the employee maintains their employee status, and as such the department can offer the employee that they may e.g.:

  • Use their title as professor/associate professor emeritus at Aarhus University and continue to be represented on the department’s website
  • Keep their AU email address
  • Have a workplace at their disposal at the department
  • Continue to be able to draw on department resources (office supplies, phone etc.) when performing tasks for the university

The emeritus staff scheme is established by agreement for a limited period of approx. one to three years, as both the emeritus’ and the department’s circumstances may change over time. The parties may discuss an extension of the agreement.

Other opportunities for working after retirement

In special cases, agreements can be made on remuneration for specific tasks following the employee’s retirement. A written agreement on remuneration is established between the retired employee and the head of department prior to the employee performing the tasks.

The various sets of regulations on how paid employment can affect early retirement pension/pension must be taken into account. As such, staff who are considering paid employment after their retirement are encouraged to discuss the opportunities and consequences with their unemployment insurance fund or pension fund before establishing an agreement to work following their retirement.

2. Evaluating the senior catalogue

The senior initiatives at BSS, including the senior catalogue and its implementation, will be evaluated in the School Liaison Committee no later than two years after they take effect. In the event that changes to the circular or to other rules and guidelines alter the basis and preconditions for the preparation of individual senior staff  schemes, the catalogue will be updated accordingly.

In case of substantial changes to the fundamental preconditions, the section on individual senior agreements, including principles and guidelines, is discussed by the Faculty Management Team and in the School Liaison Committee.