Exit Management - Policy & Procedure

The Exit Management Policy and Procedure provides staff and managers guidance on staff resignation, end of fixed term contracts and retirement from the university

Document Control

Date Approved by SLT April 2014
Date of EQIA Pending
Document Owner Human Resources
Launch Date October 2014 (updated January 2017 and October 2017)
Last modified October 2021
Next review date October 2024

1.0 Introduction

This policy and procedure provides guidance for both staff and managers in respect of the relevant procedures for termination of employment in the following circumstances

  • Resignation by the employee;
  • Retirement.

This policy does not cover terminations of fixed term contracts. Managers should refer to the Fixed Term and Open Ended Contracts Policy and the Avoidance of Redundancy Policy.

This policy does not cover terminations arising from the application of the University's Disciplinary Policy. Managers should refer to the University's Disciplinary Policy. 

2.0 Policy Aims

The main aims of the policy are:

  • To ensure the provision of fair and consistent treatment to staff members upon the termination of their employment with the University.
  • To ensure that staff and managers are aware of their responsibilities in respect of the termination of employment.
  • To ensure that the University meets its obligations to its employees under their contract of employment and appropriate legislation.

3.0 Monitoring and Review

Human Resources are responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of this policy and supporting procedures. The policy will be reviewed as required and in line with the HR policy review schedule and appropriate employment legislation.

4.0 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

QMU is committed to equality of opportunity for all staff and the terms of this policy and are designed to ensure the fair and transparent treatment for all staff irrespective of equality characteristics or contractual status.

5.0 Learning and Development

Human Resources will provide learning and development for all managers and staff involved in the implementation and application of this policy. This will be reviewed and extended in line with the on-going development of the policy.

6.0 Scope of the Policy

This policy is relevant to all core employees of the University.

7.0 Termination of Employment by Employee

Where an employee decides to resign from their position they should confirm this in writing to their line manager. A copy of the resignation letter should also be sent to Human Resources.

7.1 Notice Arrangements

Upon receipt of a resignation letter the line manager should agree an end date with the employee taking into account the period of notice in the employee’s contract of employment.

It is at the manager’s discretion should the employee wish to work a shorter notice period than their contractual notice. Should such an agreement be reached the University will only pay the employee for the portion of the notice period that is worked and the employee will be asked to sign an agreement stating that they are agreeable to working a shorter notice period than their contract of employment states.

If the employee decides not to work their full contractual notice without the prior agreement of their line manager the University will only pay the employee for the portion of the notice period that is worked.

7.2 Annual Leave Arrangements

Upon resignation the employee should check the number of days holiday entitlement they have outstanding. Human Resources can advise on the pro rated entitlement should the employees end date be during the annual leave year.

Where the employee has outstanding annual leave it is at the discretion of the line manager as to whether payment is made to the employee for the outstanding days or whether annual leave is taken prior to the employees leaving date.

7.3 Documentation for Completion

Upon receipt of the employees resignation letter Human Resources will send a Leaver Form to the employee.

The employee should complete section one of the Leaver Form and forward to their line manager for authorisation, the Leaver Form should then be forwarded to Human Resources.

It is the joint responsibility of the employee and the manager to ensure that the Leavers Form is completed and forwarded to Human Resources in good time to avoid over payments and to ensure that the necessary arrangements are made for the employee’s final pay.

Upon receipt of the resignation letter Human Resources will also send the employee a link to the online Employee Exit Questionnaire. Employees should ensure that they complete the questionnaire prior to their employment end date. The purpose of the questionnaire is to provide the University with feedback on the employees experience of QMU and provide information on their reasons for leaving. Feedback is used to inform improvements to HR processes and practice. 

7.4 Access to QMU Systems

Routinely, access to QMU systems will be terminated on the leaving date. However, it is recognised that in some circumstances, access to systems may be extended beyond the leaving date; in such cases the extension must be for a specific reason and be authorised by the Dean or Head/Director through IT. 

Research active staff leaving the employment of the University are encouraged to read our Legacy Research Procedure should they wish to keep in touch with the University in regards to future research opportunities.

8.0 Termination of Employment for Retirement

8.1 Relevant Legislation

The Employment Equality (Repeal of Retirement Age Provisions) Regulations 2011 came into effect on 6th April 2011 abolishing the default retirement age of 65 for all employees effective from 1st October 2011. In line with this legislation the University has no default retirement age and it is no longer permissible to dismiss an employee on the grounds of reaching retirement age.

8.2 Workplace Discussions Regarding Retirement

The University encourages open discussion regarding employees’ future planning, encompassing short, medium and longer term planning. It is hoped that in adopting an open and transparent approach to discussions regarding future planning managers are able to put in place appropriate succession plans and are able to support employees in planning for their retirement where appropriate.

The University’s Performance Enhancement Review (PER) should comprise discussion regarding future plans for all staff, therefore managers and employees may find having a workplace discussion regarding retirement plans as part of their PER to be an appropriate forum. Whilst the University encourages employees to be open regarding their future plans to allow for succession planning any discussions regarding retirement should be voluntary and non discriminatory.

Further guidance for managers with regards to holding workplace discussions with employees is available from Human Resources.

8.3 Procedure for Indicating Intention to Retire

As described above employees are encouraged to give as much notice as possible of their intention to retire however employees must give at least five months notice. Employees should also bear in mind that normally the pensions agency require at least four months to process retirement applications so that the employees pension is payable from the retirement date.

Once the employee has decided on their retirement date the Notification of Intention to Retire form should be completed and sent to the line manager. Once the line manager has reviewed the details and discussed with the employee the Notification of Intention to Retire form should be submitted to Human Resources.

Where the employee intends to retire prior to the normal pension age (as prescribed by their pension provider) this should be indicated on the Notification of Retirement form. Employees should be aware that if they opt to retire before their normal pension age this will have an effect on their pension benefits.

Upon receipt of the Notification of Intention to Retire form Human Resources will write to the employee to confirm their retirement date. Relevant paperwork for the pension scheme will also be completed by Finance and sent to the relevant pension provider.

8.4 Pension Rights and Benefits on Retirement

University employees can be members of the following three pension schemes; Scottish Teachers Superannuation Pension Scheme (STSS); Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and Lothian Pension Fund (LPF).

Employees should contact their pension scheme directly for pension quotes or for any other queries related to their pension benefits.

Further information with regards to the pension schemes can be found at the following website addresses:

Scottish Teachers Superannuation Scheme (STSS)

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

Lothian Pension Fund (LPF)

8.5 Support for Employees Planning for Retirement

The decision to retire is one of the most significant decisions that an individual will take. The implications will impact on the employee’s family life, social life and financial situation representing a restructure to an employee’s, potentially long established, work-life balance. To help support employees for retirement QMU provides pre-retirement training. This is a training programme that raises awareness of potential retirement issues and helps the employee to plan for them.

If you would like to attend a retirement training course, or would like further information, please speak with your HR Partner.

9.0 References

9.1 Certificate of Service

All reference requests for former employees of the University will be responded to by HR. Upon receipt of a reference request for a former employee of the University, Human Resources will issue a certificate of service to the organisation requesting the reference.  The certificate of service will include details regarding employment dates; position held and salary upon leaving. Should the requester require further information regarding attendance or disciplinary record these details can also be provided upon request.

9.2 Character or Academic References

Any member of staff within the University can provide a character reference for a former employee should they be requested to do so. Such references are provided by the individual and not on behalf of the University.

Members of staff who are requested to provide a character reference must not use QMU headed paper. The reference must clearly state that it is provided in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the University. When providing such a reference individuals should take care to ensure that the information they are providing is both factually accurate, fair and not misleading. HR will provide additional guidance to staff on what should and should not be included in the character reference.

The following text should be used when providing character references

"Please note that i am providing this reference in a personal capacity and not on behalf of Queen Margaret University". 

10.0 Responsibilities

In order to ensure that this policy and procedure are applied fairly and consistently the responsibilities of each of the stakeholders are summarised below. The stakeholders of this policy include the employee, line manager, employee representative and Human Resources.

i. Employee’s are responsible for:

    • Ensuring that they are familiar with the University’s procedures on the termination of employment and the associated administrative procedures are completed in good time;
    • Providing the University with the appropriate contractual notice should they decide to terminate their employment;
    • Making every effort to attend meetings with regard to discussions around the proposed termination of a fixed term contract;
    • Make use of available employee assistance such as the employee counseling service where required;
    • Upon leaving, ensure that all University property is returned to the University;

ii. Line Manager’s are responsible for:

    • Ensuring that they are familiar with the University's procedures on the termination of employment, and the associated administrative procedures are completed in good time.
    • Ensuring that the employee is aware of available employee assistance such as the employee counselling service.
    • Ensuring that all reference requests are forwarded to human Resources for action.

iv. Human Resources are responsible for:

    • Ensuring the appropriate advice and guidance to employees, line managers and employee representatives on the interpretation and application of this policy and procedure;
    • Ensuring that the appropriate documentation is issued and timescales are adhered to as described in the procedure;
    • Ensuring that the actions taken under this procedure are fair and compliant with the appropriate employment legislation.