To the Joint Trades Unions’ Local Pay Representatives – Full and final offer

Dear Colleagues

Without prejudice 

Thank you for presenting, on the 14 October 2020, the Joint Trades Unions’ response to the College offer, dated 7 October 2020. We appreciate your positive approach to the negotiations and your decision to revise your pay claim. 

Effect of inflation

You presented your methodology for calculating inflation, a combination of London CPIH and national CPIH. You agreed that the headline value of the annual pay award varied for different salary groups and agreed that the median cumulative percentage was “a reasonable figure to use for year-to-year comparison against cumulative inflation”. You asked that the College adopt this methodology to determine future pay awards.

However, as outlined in our letter dated 7 October, inflation reviewed against our annual median pay award is only one of the factors considered by Provost’s Board when deciding the level of investment in the College pay award.

The College offer was not based on the CPIH London figure, but on a number of factors:

  • our published pay principles of affordability, which you shared was also a key factor you considered when producing your pay claim;
  • recruitment and retention data; 
  • higher education institutions and other sectors’ pay awards;
  • benchmark salaries; 
  • and the College’s Pay and Benefits Review (as a result of reprioritisation due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Pay and Benefit information has been delayed).

Other pay increases

We agree that our use of the term ‘investment’ in relation to the survivor analysis table could be misleading. The survivor analysis table shows the percentage increase in individuals’ salaries in July 2020 compared to what they were earning in July 2019, expressed in groups of 250 employees. It compares the total sum of salaries for each group and the average salary for the group across the two time periods. As well as the Local Pay Award from last year, these percentage increases reflect:

  • increases to graded base salaries through automatic increments;
  • career progression; 
  • and 1,019 employees receiving either a one-off payment or adjustment to their pay as part of the Pay Relativity process.

You state that “a consistent pay structure or pay relativity exercise causes no increase in the year to year cost of salaries to the College”. As part of our review of pay, the College considers the recurring commitments, as this is a cost, albeit not a new one.

The College is not alone at looking at recurring commitments and, as stated in our 7 October letter, higher education institutions across the sector have considered not paying increments or delaying the payment of increments this year, and some are not undertaking pay relativity exercises or pay reviews this year.

Affordability and additional demands on staff

We agree that there has been an increase in student numbers and an increase in workload for your members, however we query how you arrived at your figure of a 10% increase in student numbers, as the exact numbers are yet to be confirmed by Registry and the future level of attrition is not yet known. 

You went on to share your calculation of the increased demand on staff time (1.4%) in relation to teaching and teaching support. Whilst we do not agree with your percentage, we have been aware since the 2019 Staff Survey that staff have concerns about their workload. More recently, the wellbeing surveys carried out in May and September this year confirmed that this continues to be a concern. 

The College is committed to ensuring staff have a positive work-life balance. As outlined in our letter of 7 October 2020, concerns about workload form part of the Provost’s Board action plan being taken forward by Professor Jonathan Weber, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, who has very much valued your input so far. 

College Pay Full and Final Offer 2020/21

The Provost’s Board have considered your revised pay claim of 3% across the board, made up of 1.6% compensation for inflation and 1.4% to compensate for increased workload. Unfortunately, they cannot fully meet this request, as it would be a recurring cost of circa £14.6m (including £4.6m externally funded costs).  

The Provost’s Board are extremely grateful for the level of commitment and hard work staff have shown during the last six months, and therefore accept this part of your argument for an increase to the pay offer so they would like to move straight to an increased full and final offer for 2020/21 of 1.6% across-the-board. This represents a recurring cost of £7.8m (including £2.4m externally funded costs). 

In addition, in recognition of the exceptional strain staff have been under including increased workloads and the impact on staff who have not been able to take an extended break during this difficult period, we intend to increase the 2020/21 College Christmas Closure days by an additional three days: Monday 21 December to Wednesday 23 December inclusive. This means the College will close on Friday 18 December and re-open on Monday 4 January, enabling staff to have a two-week uninterrupted break with no build-up of work during their absence.  We recognise that some staff may not be able to benefit from this, but they will be able to take this extra leave at a later date.  The early closure of College will not impact on December pay day, which will remain Wednesday 23 December 2020.  

The College acknowledges that there will also be cases of substantial and exceptional achievement directly related to COVID-19 and as such, we are exploring options to recognise this as part of the pay relativity exercise. 

Finally, the College are pleased to have commenced consultation with University and College Union (UCU) representatives on a new salary structure for teaching staff.  The future salary structure will use the 29-spine point scale that has already been implemented for academic and research staff and when implemented will lead to an increase recurring cost for the College.

Yours sincerely

Audrey Fraser on behalf of the College negotiating team

Cc: Harbhajan Brar – Director of HR
Emily Michael – Note taker (HR)
Neil Alford – Associate Provost (Academic Planning)
Tony Lawrence – Director of Finance
Jon Tucker – Faculty Operating Officer, Business School
Lynne Cox – Director of Research Office
Jane Neary – Director of Campus Services 

CC: Staff side representatives
Tom Pike – UCU
Michael McGarvey – UCU
Amanda Sackur – UCU
Tanya Hunt – Unison
Boyana Petrovich – Unison
Darren Hickey – Unison
Fiona May – Unite
Susan Parker – Unite
Andrew Murray – Unite