EJRA Q&As

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The members of the working party are:

  • Professor Irene Tracey, Medical Sciences Division (chair)
  • Professor Lyndal Roper, Humanities Division
  • Professor Gideon Henderson, MPLS Division
  • Professor Sandra Fredman, Social Sciences Division
  • Mr Richard Ovenden, Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM)
  • Dr Kate Blackmon, Council member elected by Congregation
  • Professor Helen McShane, Council member elected by Congregation
  • Professor Lionel Tarassenko, Council member elected by Congregation
  • Dr Ian Watson, Council member elected by Congregation
  • Dr Rebecca Surender, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Advocate for Diversity
  • Dr Saira Shaikh, Divisional Secretary, MPLS
  • Professor Jeremias Prassl, Conference of Colleges Legal Panel
  • Dr Ali Rogers, Conference of Colleges Senior Tutors' Committee

The EJRA working party is due to report to Personnel Committee in Hilary 2017 once it has had the opportunity to collect and analyse data on staff retirements and diversity for the five-year period up to 1 October 2016.

The working party will review the comments of the Appeal Court and legal advice, and will have the assistance of lawyers in considering the documents. Other evidence available to the working party will include internal data on the operation of the EJRA since its inception and the composition of the relevant staff groups and information about retirement in other universities. In addition, the working party held a number of open meetings for members of Congregation and staff in autumn 2016 in order to listen to people's views and an additional open meeting is being held on 7 March 2017.

Council was concerned to see that any overarching review of the EJRA policy should have sufficient data on which to base reasoned recommendations in the event that changes might be considered desirable. However, the first two years of data is not representative as the retirement age for most staff was moved from 65 to 67 on the introduction of the EJRA in October 2011. A review at five years will therefore be able to draw on three years’ worth of representative data on the impact of the EJRA and the exceptions procedure. It will also be able to take into consideration the effect of the absence of a retirement age on other universities, plus any recent case law.

The meeting is open to all members of Congregation and staff. Please register in advance to book a place.

The meeting will take place at lunchtime on 7 March. Tea and coffee will be provided.

Please email any comments for consideration by the working party to ejra.review@admin.ox.ac.uk by 6 March 2017.

The EJRA policy was introduced by the University following changes in national legislation which removed the default retirement age and after extensive consultation across the collegiate University. Council agreed to maintain a retirement age for University academic and academic-related staff, including (in respect of their University appointments) the holders of joint appointments, primarily to support the University's mission to sustain excellence in teaching, research and administration. The Aims of the policy are set out at https://hr.admin.ox.ac.uk/the-ejra.

The EJRA applies to all academic and academic-related staff at the University (ie all staff in grade 6 and above). There is no EJRA for support staff.

Oxford and Cambridge Universities have both introduced an EJRA. Oxford believes that, in the context of the University’s particular structure and procedures, the EJRA is an appropriate and necessary means of meeting the Aims set out at https://hr.admin.ox.ac.uk/the-ejra.

The EJRA was established in 2011, after two rounds of consultation with Congregation, following the announcement about the abolition of the default retirement age. The legislation that underpins the EJRA and sets the retirement age at 30 September before the 68th birthday was published to Congregation in the Gazette in the normal way and no objections were received. It was agreed that the EJRA would operate for an initial period of ten years, with an interim review after five years.

The Appeal Court is the internal review body which hears appeals against dismissals of academic and academic-related staff for retirement. Its functions are set out in Statute XI, s.18.(1) and in Part H of Statute XII. The Appeal Court has five members who are not members of the University. They are: a Lord or Lady of Appeal, a Lord or Lady Justice of Appeal, or a Justice of the High Court of Justice (current or retired); or, a Queen’s Counsel of not less than six years’ standing. One member of the Court presides and makes a decision in each case brought before it.

In September 2014 the presiding judge in the University Appeal Court raised a number of concerns relating to different aspects of the EJRA. Following the appeal Council approved revisions to the Aims and Procedure of the EJRA in order to address concerns raised by the Appeal Court judge and to take account of developing case law. It also set up a working party to undertake a thorough review of the EJRA based on an evidence-based analysis of the policy’s impact over a five-year period and in the context of the latest case law.

The court is a body constituted by the University, which hears individual appeals against dismissals of academic and academic-related staff for retirement. It is an internal process and is not part of the formal judicial system; as such, its findings do not have the status of the findings of an external court of law. Each case is judged individually on its merits and the decision of the court does not set a binding precedent in other cases.

In light of the comments from the Appeal Court judgment some minor editing of the Aims of the EJRA was made where clarification was needed. The exceptions procedure was also revised to address comments made by the Appeal Court and to take account of relevant case law. The revised procedure has applied since 1 October 2015.

 
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