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April, 2020:

Transformation Update

In our last newsletter, our employer’s reply to our Regional Official about the status of Transformation during the Covid-19 crisis indicated that Transformation would likely continue in some form. This position was updated in the March 26 Update from Vice-Chancellor Professor Susan Lea under HR Update.

The relevant passage is copied below:
“ While we must continue to seek to realise the benefits of our transformation plans, we will review the timings and processes of each project to reflect the immediate circumstances. Project leaders will be in touch with everyone involved in current projects as soon as possible to discuss the next steps.  For those projects which unfortunately indicate a potential for fewer roles, we will suspend all compulsory redundancy processes for the next 12 weeks.  This means that there will be no compulsory redundancies during this period. We will continue to review this position as the wider context evolves.  Whilst the implications of these decisions will require careful consideration and other mitigating actions, we hope that they provide some level of reassurance to colleagues at an otherwise difficult time.”

UCU fully supports the Vice-Chancellor’s message regarding the suspension of all compulsory redundancy processes for the next 12 weeks. It is an active demonstration of the Vice-Chancellor’s commitment to the well-being of staff and students and an acknowledgement of the needs of staff to adapt to an extraordinary situation. Below is UCU’s position on compulsory redundancy processes, which is consistent with the position put forward by the Vice-Chancellor and UCU’s national office.

UCU’s position

Vice-Chancellor’s message:

For those projects which unfortunately indicate a potential for fewer roles, we will suspend all compulsory redundancy processes for the next 12 weeks.” 

UCU’s understanding of a commitment to ‘suspend all compulsory redundancy processes for the next 12 weeks’ is that it covers the following activities:

  • the development of any selection criteria for compulsory redundancy
  • new consultations with individuals or groups of people which may lead to them being placed at risk of voluntary or compulsory redundancy
  • processes of assimilation
  • 1-1 meetings with HOD’s or other line managers about compulsory redundancy
  • issuance of redundancy notices
  • meetings of the Redundancy Committee
  • service re-design involving restructuring which may lead to compulsory redundancy

Additionally, we recognize that many people are in different stages of ‘voluntary’ severance from the University and we do not wish to interrupt any such processes which are underway. But we are working in conditions of lockdown where the ability to fully engage in consultation (either over your job or your settlement and with your advisers or representatives) may be reduced. For this reason. we’d like all deadlines for current voluntary severance schemes extended, with agreement of the member, (to a closing date past the end of lockdown) to allow people time to seek the necessary advice on pensions, payment, legal advice and their rights following severance.

Please do get in touch if there are any queries about your personal circumstances. A general position does not cover all individual circumstances and we have caseworkers ready to help, albeit remotely.

Annual Leave

The University released information on annual leave in the April 3 Update from Vice-Chancellor Professor Susan Lea.

In summary: The University encourages staff to take leave as taking some time from work is just as important in the context of remote working as it is when working on campus. It is important to note that if leave is cancelled during the lockdown period, staff are considered available for work as they would under normal circumstances. In addition, carry over for holiday entitlements will only be apply to key workers (e.g. Clinical academics), consistent with government policy on statutory leave. The University expects that the majority of staff will be able to take their annual leave in accordance with the existing policy on leave.

Some members have contacted UCU concerned that they have no time to take annual leave due to the pressure of workload associated with moving to online delivery and changes to assessment submission dates. Also, additional pressures from caring responsibilities have put pressure on staff to spread work over longer time periods. UCU will raise these concerns with management this week.  Please note that Trade Unions were not consulted on either holiday leave in the context of current epidemic, or absence reporting. This was due to the University’s need to act quickly. Please do get in touch, if you have concerns and we will bring them to the attention of management. Also, remember to let your manager know if you are experiencing difficulties.