Mandatory retirement by age 65 has been an integral part of the University of Prince Edward Island’s terms of employment since 1995. Since that time, mandatory retirement has benefitted the overall University community by facilitating workforce renewal, and providing an effective tool for human resources and financial planning.
Following official complaints by three UPEI employees, the PEI Human Rights Commission conducted seven days of hearings in October 2009. The Commission released a ruling in February 2010 that our mandatory retirement policy is discriminatory. As anticipated, the Commission has now issued an Order to the University on the issues of remedies, damages, and costs. This Order was received by UPEI on June 4, 2010. See details on the Order here.
UPEI intends to fully comply with the Order. The three employees will be reinstated immediately and will be compensated for lost income, as outlined in the Order.
The total cost to the University to implement the Order will be in excess of
$1 million. For comparison purposes, this is double the increase to our government operating grant for Main Campus in 2010-11. In addition, the University will incur an estimated $325,000 a year in ongoing salary and benefit costs associated with reinstatement. These costs are substantial, and will need to be accommodated in this year’s budget.
The UPEI Senior Management Group will be meeting early this week to consider the measures that will be necessary to address this financial challenge. Restrictions on hiring and on discretionary expenditures are anticipated.
An ongoing issue raised by the University throughout the mandatory retirement debate has been the need for a more robust system of performance review for all faculty and staff. In light of the Order, it is imperative that this issue be addressed.
As the full implications of this new reality become clearer, we will keep the campus community informed through this website. This will include periodic updates on the judicial review that was requested by the University following the PEI Human Rights Commission’s February ruling.
As I read this, I can see the subtext too - can't you? The natural flow of employment has been dammed. There is a now a logjam at the top.
Who gains and who loses? What does this mean?
A few professors will gain.
But what about the students? There are some older people, like the great late Peter Drucker, who spent their entire and long lives at the cutting edge. Are any of these profs the leaders in their field? Are the students breaking down the doors to be in their class? Are the profs over 65 at UPEI exceptional? What will it be like for the students to have these profs taking up the limited teaching space at UPEI?
What does this mean for the teaching staff at UPEI? It means that UPEI cannot bring in much new blood. At a time when all is up in the air, it means that UPEU's faculty will get fossilized. It was fossilized until the late 1990's when UPEI had a mass buyout of older profs. UPEI's rise took place since that moment. So this means that just as we need to rethink our world, there will be no room for UPEI to bring in new thinking.
What about the regular staff of UPEI? With no exit at 65, what happens to staffing and hiring? It means that all full time staff at UPEI have an unlimited job subject only to a performance review. So if you are the admin at UPEI what does this mean? It means that you fill as few permanent positions as possible.
That means that the generation who has eaten the dregs of the boomers their whole lives continue in limbo. It means that the boomers have shut them off.
So, on balance most lose. Not a bit but a lot. And for what?
I think that there is a moral issue here.
There has been a contract both legal and moral for a long time. No one could say that they woke up one morning and were surprised by having to retire at 65. All could have arranged their lives with years to prepare. Some have said that they wished to continue their research. What has UPEI got to do with that? My own research has never depended on a university. It's not as if anyone of them was using the accelerator at Cern!
These people have used the system.
I say "use" because it is the moral issue that concerns me the most. When they took action, they knew what this would mean to the life of the university. To the future of the students - to the future of the next generation of staff. But they chose their own personal interests over all these others.
Finally "The Commission" Why this narrow range of thinking? We have age limits on countless things. Driving, voting, sex and drinking. Each age limit may be contentious - should it be one year or the other - but the principle behind them is socially sound. At what age are we competent?
How can a body like this overlook the broader interests and the impact of what they decide?
I am 60 in a few weeks. I am not the same person I was when I was 50. Nor should I be. People my age and older have a lot to offer younger people. But not in a transactional and busy way. It's the difference between parenting and being a grand father.
What can we best offer at over 60? Is it not our role and duty as oldies to influence our little world to be a better place for our kids? Is it not our role to be generative? To work to ensure that those younger than us can have a better or a good life?
Ageism! Get a life. When you are old you are different. Time to invent your self as an elder. Time to grow up and see the consequences of your actions.