CIPD conference: University of Cambridge to add benefits to encourage staff to work longer

The University of Cambridge is to look into adding new benefits to help its employees prepare to work longer.

The additional benefits could include a voluntary benefits scheme, with products geared towards welfare, such as disability benefits, dental insurance and life insurance.

The university will also consider introducing contributions towards long-term care, a workplace individual savings account (Isa), health screening, flexible annual leave, and training and development opportunities. It will also look at changing its pension scheme so that staff can take 80% of the benefits early while continuing to work part-time as a way to encourage flexible retirement.

Indi Seehra, director of human resources at the University of Cambridge, speaking at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reward conference, said: “These benefits will be required by an older workforce.”

In November 2010, ahead of the abolition of the default retirement age (DRA), which was phased out between 6 April and 1 October 2011, the university formed a working group to consult on the issue.

The consultation, which lasted until August 2011, included: management information and trends among the university’s employees, responses from other employers, the case law to date, and the implication on performance management.

It held consultation with its 9,000 employees, and implemented an interim arrangement while it finalised its future retirement policy.

The reasons identified for maintaining a retirement age at the university included: inter-generational fairness, refreshment of the academy, preservation of academic autonomy and freedom, and equality and diversity.

The options considered were: applying a retirement age to tenured academics and some senior administrators; extending a retirement age to include all staff other than those in clerical and manual grades; and extending a retirement age to include clerical and manual staff.

On 27 April 2012, the university adopted the first option.

Seehra added: “We understand what we are attempting to do at the university, but it will take a bit of time.”

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