Update on the pay claim 2018/2019 – demands submitted jointly by all trade unions on campus to university management as part of negotiations
Casualisation, job security, & workload
|Commit to a single Welfare and Wellbeing Services strategy and ensure proper support structures and safety of College Welfare and Wellbeing staff||Stop the creeping implementation of any ‘5 in 7’ and ‘annualised hours’ contracts
||End all 9 month teaching and research contracts, with a minimum length of 12 months for standard positions||Fair and consistent workload|
|Support non-EU and EU staff by providing certainty of employment status||Address Trade Unions’ Concerns in relation to the campus in Dubai||Commit to extending sick pay in cases of serious illness and disability-related absence||Where any member of staff has worked on fixed term contracts for more than 4 years, the University must have a policy in place committing them a permanent contract, as required by employment law|
|Stop the pricing out of staff from the Sports Centre||For all teaching and research staff, full employment contracts should be drawn up with a clear description of the role of the job in question and offered before the start of term so that staff can be paid during the month that they start work||Sign the TUC ‘Dying to Work’ Charter||An end to unreasonable marking deadlines for written assignments|
|Disclosure of the Ethnicity Pay Gap||
Commit to working with the unions to implement a comprehensive domestic violence and harassment policy
|Formal agreement that all casualised committee members of recognised trade unions are entitled to the same level of paid facilities time to carry out trade union duties as full time staff||Bring staff in the Edgbaston Park Hotel back in-house||Adopt the recommended HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) student-to-counsellor ratio, and recruit 21 accredited counsellors (FTE|
|Support the Period Dignity Campaign||Guarantee that the opportunity to enrol on the University’s HEA Accredited PGCHE will be made available to all teaching staff||Have union representation on disciplinary hearing panels for all staff||Ensure cases of absence are referred to and seen by Occupational Health before any formal processes are implemented|
We ask the University to provide:
• 52 weeks of childcare for children of nursery age to all staff, capped at a total cost of 10% of annual salary, by 2020 via an accredited workplace nursery scheme;
• nurseries at the University should be exempt from generating surpluses;
• the University should provide an on-campus créche or soft play-area for children, making campus more parent-child friendly.
We are all carers at some point in our lives, but the burden of care for our loved ones falls particularly on women and evidence shows that this is a major contributor to the gender pay gap nationally. We are calling for a not-for profit childcare provision on near campus available to all staff. This initiative would also be a good measure for improving productivity and allowing members of staff to work with the comfort and ease of mind of their children being well looked after nearby.
Commit to rewriting the flexible working policy in negotiation with the trade unions
While we support the statutory right of all staff to request flexible working, through our casework we have seen a consistent unwillingness on the part of the University to consider caring responsibilities when considering flexible working requests. Such consideration is absolutely necessary to support those staff with caring responsibilities in remaining in work. We call on the University to:
•guarantee that caring responsibilities will be properly and consistently considered when staff submit flexible working requests, and to acknowledge that discriminating against carers is an equality issue;
•implement an independent appeals process for flexible working and allow any potentially discriminatory actions to be dealt with through the grievance process.
Ensure that all staff are employed on full employment contracts, with the University as the recognised employer
The University must ensure that all support staff, including undergraduate and postgraduate students working through Worklink and all teaching staff, including postgraduate students working through Worklink are employed on full employment contracts, with the University as the recognised employer. Similarly, for all academic related and support positions, we call on the University to ensure full employment rights by employing all staff on full employment contracts, with the University as the recognised employer. This will ensure:
• full maternity and paternity rights for all staff;
• the same rights to sick pay for all staff;
• equal protection against unfair dismissal for all staff;
• full rights to fair treatment and equal under the University’s policies and procedures relating
to employees of the University.
Reduce the number of disciplinary proceedings against Cleaning Services Staff
The support staff unions are alarmed by the high rate of disciplinary proceedings being taken against cleaning staff. We believe this is grossly unfair and that cleaning staff do one of the most difficult and important jobs at our University. We ask that the University commits to the following principles:
• counselling must be exhausted before a disciplinary case is brought in all but serious cases of misconduct;
• HR must ensure that counselling has been exhausted before agreeing to process a request for a disciplinary investigation;
• the number of disciplinaries within Cleaning Services should be broadly in line with other departments at the University.
End vacancy saving targets for Budget Centres and ensure all positions are well-resourced
The University relying on vacancy saving targets to cut costs is supremely inefficient – leaving posts vacant leaves staff unable to ‘add value’ as they are constantly trying to cover for vacant posts. This increases the chance that others will leave causing a domino effect of other posts that remain vacant. Staff leave because they cannot take annual leave, cannot attend training courses and their secondments are refused. Some areas are having to take drastic action to address the lower overall pay offer compared to the University’s competitors, while others are increasingly contracting agency workers to do the work, instead of offering contracts.
We call on both individual departments and the University centrally to cease relying on leaving posts vacant as a cost-saving measure, and instead to recognise that keeping posts fully filled and staff happy is a more consistent and reliable benefit to the institution.
Draw up an action plan to close the gender pay gap by 2020
• this should consist of a report detailing the concrete action to be taken by the University to close the gender pay gap. We call for the University to consult widely on such a document, and work with all of the campus trade unions.
According to government statistics the University of Birmingham pays women on average 20%, or over £8,000 per year less than men and a staggering 66% less in bonus payments. This means that if you are a female member of staff and there was no gender pay gap you would be earning up to £160 more per week in basic pay.
Commit to a single Welfare and Wellbeing Services strategy and ensure proper support structures and safety of College Welfare and Wellbeing staff
The demand for welfare and wellbeing support at the University is growing, but practitioners within both central services and within colleges often feel overworked and unsupported. There’s a clear need for both local expertise from dedicated, college-based staff and properly resourced central services able to advise and accept referrals in cases where it’s necessary.
What’s needed is a single strategy at the University that preserves existing college-level expertise, while supporting all practitioners with the following practical, centrally provided steps:
• a single University strategy for welfare with direct input from Welfare and Wellbeing staff;
• offer proper and consistent clinical supervision to all Welfare staff;
• risk assessments for all Welfare staff;
• provide panic alarms to all Welfare staff;
• fair and standardised recruitment;
• clear referral route to central counselling;
• DBS checks should be paid for by the University for all Welfare and Wellbeing staff.
Stop the creeping implementation of any ‘5 in 7’ or ‘annualised hours’ contracts
As part of their contracts support staff generally have fixed or determined working hours, usually 36 hours per week if they are full-time. The first letter they receive from the University when they are offered the post contains the line “your hours are as agreed with the Head of Budget Centre (or nominee)”. Traditionally, this would involve fixed working hours that do not change from week to week or changed according to a set pattern.
The University, however, has increasingly increased the number of unusual working patterns, where staff are either required to work the same number of hours across any 5 days in the week or are required to work varying numbers of hours to meet an annual total. The University claims that this is entirely at the discretion of local managers and does not record numbers of staff on these different contracts.
We strongly feel that the use of these contracts should be minimised to give staff the benefit of stability and a family life as well as ensuring limited staff resource is not spread too thinly across the working week. We also feel that setting working hours should be a mutual process between staff and line manager where both individual circumstances and business requirements are considered. Collectively, we call on the University to:
• monitor the number of staff on fixed working hours, 5 in 7 or annualised hours contracts;
• consult with the unions if a vacant or occupied fixed working hours post is changed to 5 in 7 or annualised hours;
• keep to specific local agreements surrounding the recruitment of staff on 5 in 7 and annualised hours contracts in HAS;
• ensure working hours are clearly advertised and then mutually agreed with staff from the beginning of employment;
• consult with staff individually and collectively when proposals to change working hours cannot be agreed by mutual consent.
End all 9 month teaching and research contracts, with a minimum length of 12 months for standard positions
This demand calls for an end to casual teaching and research contracts that don’t pay outside term time. We work all year round to improve education and often receive pay only for 9 months of the year. In the summer, we often struggle to make ends meet and are poorest at the start of term. We demand an end to in-work poverty by abolishing fixed-term 9 month contracts, and demand that all casual tutors are put on continuous contracts with full employment rights.
Fair and consistent workload
Support and academic-related staff:
There is currently no model in place to calculate the numbers of professional services staff required at the University and change processes in different departments betray radically different conceptions of the number of staff required for widespread roles.
Academic-related staff have no fixed working hours and the weekly working hours expected from them varies across the institution – some are expected to work at the weekend in addition to work in the week without additional remuneration.
Excess workload needs to be addressed both as a hazard and as a hindrance to the efficient functioning of the University. To do this we call for:
• flexi-time schemes to be in place by default for school and college administrators and in any other area where the business need does not specifically prevent it;
• consultation to take place with recognised trade unions on a basis for assessing workload and for professional services staff;
• a recognition that the 37.5 hour guideline working week for academic-related staff relates to Monday to Friday, and any work on weekends should be paid as overtime.
The University of Birmingham employs 69.6% of all academic staff on some form of fixed term or precarious contract. This means that staff have little job security, are not being paid what they deserve, and their career progression is severely hampered. Given our outstanding contribution to education, we demand that our work is fully recognised in the development of new workload allocation agreements, and are paid on the basis of a 1,650-hour year. For this to be possible we call on the University to:
• ensure that any and all changes to workload models are negotiated with the relevant trade unions;
• recognition of the 1,650 annualised hours (based on a 37.5 working week) for all teaching and research workload allocation models and ensure that all hourly work is fully recognised and paid for on an equal basis.
Support non-EU and EU staff by providing certainty of employment status
The University should support non-EU and EU staff by providing certainty of employment status, and covering all visa fees and application costs necessary for their employment. This should also extend to providing financial support to staff and their families in achieving settled status after Brexit.
Address Trade Unions’ concerns in relation to the campus in Dubai
As recognised trade union branches, we have not been consulted on the opening of the Dubai campus and on the policies that will apply to the members of staff who will be working for the University in Dubai. Many of our members have raised concerns about the lack of adequate and clear assurances that their rights will be upheld while working in Dubai. In order to have a constructive dialogue and better understanding of the practicalities of working and studying on the Dubai campus, we have asked the University for a number of basic guarantees, which include:
• providing unions and staff with all the policies and processes that will be applied to staff working in Dubai;
• guaranteeing the protection of staff and students, especially women and LGBTQ people;
Commit to extending sick pay in cases of serious illness and disability-related absence
The University’s sickness absence policies for all groups of staff contain limited provisions for the extension of sick pay. For example, support staff terms and conditions state that sick pay “may be extended at the discretion of the University on the basis of full pay, half pay or no pay”, while the terms and conditions of Academic and Related staff contain a similar provision for extension at the discretion of the University’s council.
Despite this, we know from our casework that the University does not extend sick pay, particularly for support staff, except in cases of terminal illness where life expectancy is short or when a return to work is due within weeks. We feel this is contrary to the University’s duty of care to its staff and can often delay a return to work in cases of stress-related illness. There should be a fair and transparent process for the extension of sick pay. In particular the nature of the illness should be considered, alongside factors such as disability and any work-related factors that contributed to the absence.
Where any member of staff has worked on fixed term contracts for more than 4 years the University must have a policy in place committing them to a permanent contract, as required by employment law
As the campus trade unions we are alarmed at the level of redundancies and consistent poor practice in relation to staff on fixed-term contracts. We believe that the treatment of staff in not having a process in place to ‘automatically’ transfer them onto permanent contracts after 4 years breaches both employment law, where this right is clearly stated as part of the Fixed Term Employees Regulations (2002), and our procedure agreement with the University on how redundancies should be handled. We also point to a recent redundancy case in LES that was overturned on appeal in which the panel found systematic failings in the handling of the case by the University.
Offer genuine double pay and time off in lieu to all support staff who work on bank holidays and University closed days
Recently the University implied that almost all shifts worked on a bank holiday or closed day should count as normal working days and that staff are not entitled to enhanced pay for these and that if staff currently receive enhanced pay for working a bank holiday or closed day, this is either due to some form of local arrangement or custom and practice, or an error. The University has proposed rewording the terms and conditions to make bank holiday working clearer, but this would mean us accepting a lower enhanced rate in order to ensure everyone who works a bank holiday or closed day gets it. We demand that work on bank holidays and University closed days is kept as voluntary, and that everyone who works on these days is paid double and time off in lieu.
Ensure a minimum of 50% quotas for women or non-binary panel members on all appointment and promotion panels
The gender pay gap exists also because women are denied the same opportunities as men. Women can make up most of the staff membership, and yet receive a collective pay package lower than men’s because they are disproportionately employed on lower grades. Indeed, this was referenced by the Vice Chancellor as the primary reason for the gender pay gap at the University of Birmingham.
We demand executive action to introduce and enforce a minimum of 50% quotas for female members of staff on appointment and promotion panels. This should extend to all work commissioned by the employer and be staffed by women or non-binary staff members of a minimum equivalent grade as the advertised post. We see this as the only way to remove barriers to career progression for women and casualised staff.
Stop the pricing out of staff from the Sports Centre
It is becoming clear that the lowest-paid staff are paying the price for the new Sports Centre building. For example, swimming fees at the old centre were £12.50 per month. They almost doubled to £23 per month earlier this year, and in August they were increased further to £30 per month. This is an increase of 140%, while year-on-year the University has given staff pay rises below inflation.
The University has already invested in a policy on wellbeing that takes physical activity as one of its ’Five Ways to Wellbeing’ but low pay prevents its staff from participating in this initiative. By implementing the Wellbeing Agenda, the University already recognises the huge benefit exercise has in terms of productivity and mental health, but it should adopt a holistic charging model that offers these opportunities to its poorest employees who currently cannot rely upon the Accredited Living Wage.
Sign the TUC Dying to Work Charter
Many workers get a serious illness at some time in their working lives. They may require time off, often many months, to get treatment or recover. There is helpful guidance produced by the TUC that deals with cases of long-term illness, or return to work for those who are disabled as a result of an illness or injury. However, sometimes there is no effective treatment. In these cases the worker may face a time of huge emotional stress, fear and uncertainty. UK Social Security legislation defines a terminal illness as: “a progressive disease where death as a consequence of that disease can reasonably be expected within 6 months”, however many patients can have a terminal illness and survive much longer than 6 months.
The dying to work charter has been signed by a wide range of different employers, including NHS trusts, Lloyds Banking Group, Local Authorities, Severn Trent Water and other Universities. It requires employers to make just three basic commitments for the protection of any of their staff who contract a terminal illness:
• review sick pay and sickness absence procedures and include a specific statement that they will not dismiss any person with a terminal diagnosis because of their condition;
• ensure that that they have an Employee Assistance Programme that has the capacity and competency to provide support to any person with a terminal illness, including access to counselling and financial advice;
• provide training to line managers and all HR staff on dealing with terminal illness, including how to discuss future plans with any worker who has a diagnosis of a terminal illness, and on what adaptations to work arrangements that may be necessary.
We call on the University to make these commitments and to sign the charter. More information about the campaign can be found at: https://www.dyingtowork.co.uk/the-campaign/
An end to unreasonable marking deadlines for written assignments
Where tutors are asked to assess written assignments coming to more than 80,000 words in total then all such marking must be exempted from the University’s 15 day marking turnaround.
Disclosure of the ‘ethnicity pay gap‘
The University sits within one of the UK’s most diverse cities, slated to become the UK’s second “plural city” (lacking a White British majority) by 2024. The University clearly fails to reflect this diversity in the number of BAME staff in management, professional and senior roles at the University. Action needs to be taken to address this.
We call on the University to commit to disclosing an ‘ethnicity pay gap’ alongside the gender pay gap for 2018. The disclosure should mirror the gender pay gap and include:
• mean and median averages for pay and bonuses;
• the proportion of staff in each category receiving bonuses;
• the proportion of staff in each category in each quartile of the University’s pay structure.
Commit to working with the unions to implement a comprehensive domestic violence and harassment policy
UNISON has drafted a model domestic violence and harassment policy and we call on the University to work with us to see it implemented here. The aim in developing an effective policy on domestic violence/abuse and stalking is to create a workplace where the dignity and safety of our colleagues are respected. Such a policy would support the University’s:
• commit to family-friendly working and ensure the welfare of individual members of staff;
• maintain the reputation of Birmingham University as an employer of choice, acknowledging that a safer working environment benefits women’s professional development and the University’s commitment to ongoing gender equality, removing a barrier to women’s success, as outlined by the Athena Swan;
• fulfil the legal responsibility to safeguard the welfare and safety of all staff, as per the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1992).
Formal agreement that all casualised committee members of recognised trade unions are entitled to the same level of paid facilities time to carry out trade union duties as full-time staff
This should be guaranteed and paid for the full University year (August to July) and should not be subject to completion of timesheets. Trade union officers are among the greatest contributors to maintaining and innovating a safe and secure work environment. The knowledge and skills of officers and activists – such as equality representatives, casualised representatives, and health and safety representatives – is outstanding. Universities cannot afford to lose this resource and must offer financial support to develop it. We demand that a special hourly rate – with annual increments above inflation – is established for casualised members of staff who are elected as officers of the campus unions. This financial support should be sufficient to incentivise a member to carry out their duties in facilities time used outside of their casual contracts instead of looking for a second job or refusing to work altogether.
Bring staff in the Edgbaston Park Hotel back in-house
The University’s own Hotel and Conference park was outsourced to a wholly owned subsidiary company in July of this year. Staff transferred from the University are seeing major deteriorations in their working conditions, contrary to the assurances by management, while other staff are receiving inferior pay and benefits (including lower holiday entitlements and a lack of trade union recognition). This is contrary to the University’s duty as a public educational body, and we call on the University (as the controlling entity of the new company) to:
• recognise the same trade unions (UNISON, UCU, UNITE, GMB) for all staff in the Conference Park (including newly recruited staff);
• equal rights with staff at the University of Birmingham;
• commit to bringing the staff back in-house;
• end the institutionalised bullying and divisive separation of newly recruited and transferred staff by allowing all staff to attend meetings and social events);
• stop requiring fingerprint ID for clocking in;
• give staff enough time to complete the work assigned to them and specifically stop allocating transferred staff less time to clean rooms than their newly recruited colleagues;
• ensure all staff have access to social events and team meetings;
• commit to fair working hours including not sending staff home unpaid midway through their shifts, giving them proper notice of their shifts and not compelling staff to work on bank holidays/University closed days.
Overall we feel the University should not be outsourcing its staff to maximise the generation of profit and maintain that the Hotel and Conference park should be brought back in-house.
Adopt the recommended HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) student-to-counsellor ratio, and recruit 21 accredited counsellors
Currently, the University of Birmingham has approximately 35,000 students, and only 4 FTE counsellors. According to the HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) report in 2016, universities ought to maintain a student-to-counsellor ratio of 1 : 1,358; however, the University of Birmingham ratio is 1 : 8,750. The University has therefore failed in caring for its students and needs an urgent plan to recruit 21 more counselling staff (FTE), and counselling should be provided in-house.
Year after year, the waiting list for students to access counselling on campus has become longer and harder to manage; at times, the counselling service team was forced to suspend all sign-ups. Numerous reports have been published in the media about the lack of student support on the University of Birmingham campus, and the staff are feeling the pressure to see more students in shorter periods of time. This leads to burnout and stress, and a demoralising feeling of letting students down. This must stop. While we welcome the expansion of Wellbeing and Welfare teams on campus, their role is not to replace counselling services. The University of Birmingham's staffing levels for counselling are much below the average ratio in the UK. We call on the University to adhere to the HEPI recommended ratio as a matter of urgency.
Provide adequate car parking facilities and work with the trade unions on campus to better incentivise sustainable transport
The University is consistently operating below its allocated number of spaces, which is the cause of a great deal of stress to those staff who need to drive onto campus. Furthermore, large swathes of new and existing car parks are being set up as “purple permit” only car parks in an attempt to commit staff to driving onto campus every day, rather than taking public transport when they are able to. The lowest paid staff at the University were previously exempted from car parking charges and even though their pay has not increased in real terms they are now expected to pay parking fees if they use car parks within the charging periods. Finally, we are concerned that the distribution of “blue badge” spaces is no longer fit for purpose due to the sheer level of construction work on campus. We demand that the University commits to:
• maintaining the number of spaces allocated them by Birmingham City Council;
• all new car parks being pay-as-you-go (blue permit) or pay and display;
• exempt band 200 staff from car-parking charges;
• review the locations of blue badge bays to ensure that all buildings have sufficient spaces
within the legally defined distance
Support the Period Dignity campaign
We support UNITE's Period Dignity Campaign and echo their calls for access to sanitary products in the workplace and schools to be as normal as having access to things such as toilet roll https://unitetheunion.org/perioddignity
Guarantee that the opportunity to enrol on the University’s HEA accredited PGCHE will be made available to all teaching staff
This demand calls for equal access to paid teaching-related training. Everyone deserves to become a better teacher and not enough has been done to explore the contribution that teaching makes towards becoming a better researcher. We demand that financial support be put in place to help and encourage people to make the time to do so. This should include all hours needed to attain the desired certification. This is particularly important where staff work on hourly paid contracts.
Have union representation on all disciplinary hearing panels for all staff
All staff are entitled to be accompanied to disciplinary meetings by a colleague or union representative in accordance with ACAS guidance and statute. However, the disciplinary panels that make the decisions themselves are constituted in very different ways for different groups of staff – those for staff on Academic-related contracts include representation from recognised trade-unions, while support staff hearing panels are made up of a single manager and HR advisor. We feel that this mismatch is unfair and that the independence of disciplinary processes would be greatly improved if this provision was extended to all groups of staff. We call on the University to commit to this and to work with us on instituting this provision in a way that’s fair, independent and workable.
Ensure cases of absence are referred to and seen by Occupational Health before any formal processes are implemented
The attendance and absence monitoring policies of the University lay out a clear role for the University’s Occupational Health service in reviewing cases of ill health to determine what action the University can take to reduce sickness absence for particular individual members of staff. The attendance management policy further contains the provision that all sickness absence will be assumed to be genuine without clear evidence of abuse. In the light of this, it is clearly essential to obtain the advice of Occupational Health practitioners before any formal action is taken against a member of staff due to sickness. We call on the University to do this in all cases of:
• absence investigations;
• disciplinary cases linked to sickness absence;
• capability investigations.
In addition, the University should ensure that any requests for reasonable adjustments are properly considered by managers and that the advice of expert practitioners is not disregarded as to the feasibility of requests and their likely impact on enabling staff to return to and remain in work.