In the past, permanent staff who were no longer needed by the institution in their current roles were eligible to be placed on a redeployment register, on which they could remain indefinitely.
But the institution has said that it now plans to limit the amount of time employees can spend on the register to three months, to reduce the estimated £2 million annual cost of the existing policy.
If the proposal is approved, the staff who have been on the register for three months or more would be at risk of redundancy, the university said. About 40 people currently fit into this category.
The university therefore plans to establish a voluntary severance scheme for these employees, “and if necessary a compulsory redundancy scheme”, a spokeswoman said.
Martyn Moss, the regional official for the University and College Union in the North West, said that many more workers could be affected by the changed rules in future. Manchester has 9,745 employees, according to Higher Education Statistics Agency data for 2013-14.
“It is incredibly disappointing that the university has decided to get rid of its policy opposing compulsory redundancies,” Mr Moss said.
“During difficult times in the past and through the merger [between the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in 2004], the university maintained its strong and principled stance.
“Such a seismic shift in policy is worrying for staff across the university and UCU has concerns about the potential consequence for members.”
The university spokeswoman said the proposals were designed “to deal with financial pressures and create the financial headroom required to invest in its strategic priorities”.
The change would also ensure the treatment of permanent staff is “more consistent” with employees on fixed-term or open-ended contracts linked to finite funding and special projects, according to the spokeswoman.
There will be a consultation, which will include the UCU.
“The proposals are designed to ensure that a rigorous, fair and transparent process is applied to each individual on the redeployment register who is at risk of redundancy and include arrangements to explore opportunities for the avoidance of redundancy, including redeployment and retraining,” the spokeswoman added.