‌‌‌Principles of Pay and Recognition as Applied at Imperial College

Imperial College is committed to offering staff a pay and benefits package that is equitable, fair and appropriately reflects the College’s standing as a world leading University.

The principles behind key elements of the pay and benefits package are listed below with links to further information on the various schemes in place.


Rates of Pay

The College regularly benchmarks rates of pay against relevant internal and appropriate external comparators including our international competitors for talent. 

The College aims to pay mid to upper quartile rates of pay for its staff against appropriate external comparators wherever possible within its financial constraints.

The College pay scales are available to view on our Salaries webpage.

Annual Pay Review

The College’s annual pay review for all staff on local pay bargaining terms and conditions is jointly negotiated through local pay bargaining with the College Trades Unions.  The review considers all elements of reward that impact on staff costs.

The award is normally paid on 1 August unless Provost's Board agrees otherwise. The College sets the award, taking into account affordability as the principle requirement but assessed against staff wage demands based on inflationary pressures.  Recruitment and retention data and other sector pay awards are utilised to determine the maximum offer that can be made by the College.

The data that informs Provost's Board decision-making on the local pay offer will be subject to an annual consultation with all staff before the pay bargaining process commences.

Staff are invited to view the local pay negotiation outcomes.

Gender Pay and Equal Pay Audits

Equal Pay and Gender Pay audits are conducted annually and the findings are published.

The College undertook its first gender pay audit in 2017.

The College is committed to ensuring equal pay for all staff and to eradicating gender pay gaps. Action plans are published and progress is reviewed annually by the Provost's Board and Council.

Remuneration and Nominations Committee

The Committee is made up of four external Council members who review and approve the application of the College's pay relativity criteria for the President and the Provost, their senior staff direct reports and members of the Provost's and President's Boards.

The Committee reviews the application of the College's reward strategy on an annual basis to ensure that remuneration practices are being managed in a fair and equitable way. This review is informed by the following supporting data:

  • Details of the across-the-board local pay award and any variation to benefits for all staff
  • Summary information on the application of discretionary pay adjustments for all staff
  • The annual equal pay audit
  • The annual gender pay audit (and other specific protected pay audits as published)
  • Pay ratios and relevant comparator information
  • Information on numbers of staff earning a total salary of more than £100,000, with trend data on average increases for the previous five years compared to average increases for all staff over five years
  • Detail of the individuals earning over £150,000 and the justification for any variation to pay (above the College across-the-board increase) reported on an individual basis and with reference to the College's pay relativity criteria applied to all staff.

Pay Relativity

The College is committed to offering a total reward package that is equitable, fair and appropriately reflects the College’s standing as a world leading university based in London.  Annually the HR Division undertakes a benchmarking exercise to review the College’s salaries against the Russell Group, London Higher Education Sector, agreed relevant benchmark comparators and London market pay rates.  This information is shared with the Provost’s Board which reviews the College’s approach to pay which includes the annual pay award and the criteria   for the review of individual salaries.

All staff will be positively reviewed on an annual basis to ensure pay is in line with benchmark information and the contribution expected for their role. Most staff will receive the College’s annual pay award negotiated with the College’s trade unions.  Any further review will be exceptional, based on the pay relativity criteria, or as a result of automatic incremental progression where applicable.

Guidance for managers on the Pay Relativity exercise is available to view.

Incremental Progression

Where the College offers incremental pay scales, automatic progression through the scale will apply unless there is a formal disciplinary or performance process underway.

Supplementary Pay Allowances

The College recognises that supplementary pay above basic rates may be required in specific cases.  These may be:

  • to implement a contractual element of an externally funded pay arrangement (eg NHS funded staff)
  • to meet market pay inconsistencies – this will be benchmarked annually and may be withdrawn if markets change
  • to support employees who are adversely affected by tax to the extent that it causes them to withdraw from active pension membership or to limit their pension savings - Pension pay supplement policy
  • to implement regular contractual overtime or shift payments
  • to meet a, usually temporary, increase in responsibilities beyond the remit of the grade.

Allowances are reviewed regularly to ensure they are appropriate and equitable and that the criteria and basis for calculation is transparent. 

Useful links

Grade and Promotion Reviews

Job Evaluation

All new and significantly revised job descriptions are evaluated by trained assessors, including Trade Unions representatives, using the internationally recognised Hay job evaluation meth odology.

The points allocated by the evaluators determine the job f amily level grade for the post.  This is based on the requirements for the post not the exper ience or qualifications of the current postholder.

The Job Families Grading Structure is available to view.


The College is committed to a transparent system for its promotion reviews. Criteria and timescales for reviews are published and the reviewers will respond informatively to requests for feedback on unsuccessful applications.

There is an annual process for academic staff to be reviewed for promotion against the published criteria.

Staff not covered by the academic promotions process whose job description has changed can apply to have their post evaluated using the Hay methodology.  These reviews take place on a termly basis.


Noting that the College needs to work within the financial constraints of a publicly funded organisation, it strives to offer a package of benefits, facilities and a working environment that:

  • is consistent with its position as a world leading University
  • contributes to high levels of employee satisfaction and
  • reflects the College as an employer of choice.

The College benchmarks its provisions against other organisations publicly recognised as go od places to work.

Recognition of Achievement

Outside of financial remuneration, the College encourages line managers and principal investigators to give informal recognition of excellent work and positive feedback on success.  The College co-ordinates a range of central awards that recognise the achievement of staff across a number of different areas.