UCL Rate of Deduction for USS Strike - not most progressive approach among HE institutions

UPDATE: UCL HAVE NOW AGREED TO DEDUCT AT 1/365th of salary per day of strike action.
they have also agreed to deduct pro rata for part time staff, and confirmed that 1/365th supersedes any communications mentioning 1/260th deductions.


In response to the coming UCU strike action to defend the USS pension scheme, a number of more enlightened universities have made it clear that they will deduct pay for strike action at the rate of 1/365th of our gross salary per day.

These include:
  • City University (London)
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Leeds
  • Lancaster University 
  • Reading
  • Cambridge 
  • Aberdeen

This is partly in response to a court case (Hartley and Ors V King Edward VI College 2017), where it was established that deductions should be by the days of the year (in that case what was material to the judgement was the fact that teachers could not complete all their appointed tasks by working only during working hours but needed to do work in evenings and weekends, as with most “professions”, says the court case write up, para 20).

UCL, however, have decided to deduct pay at 1/260th (calculated by excluding weekends) because, and get this (!!!), we are not contractually expected to work evenings and weekends (see the below letter from head of HR to UCU). Thus, they are docking us more for striking. 

It is, in the view of UCL UCU, a draconian and legally misguided response, and definitely open to legal challenge. More importantly it is a slap in the face for its staff.


---------Letter from UCL HR Director follows 

From: Ryland, Fiona [mailto:f.ryland@ucl.ac.uk] 
Sent: 26 October 2017 06:54
To: Christine Bernabe <cbernabe@ucu.org.uk>
Subject: FW: To the Vice-Chancellor's attention - UCU on deductions from salary for strike action taken

Mr Barry Lovejoy
National Head of Regional Organisation & Nations
Carlow Street
London NW1 7LH

Dear Mr Lovejoy,

I refer to your email of 10 October 2017 to Professor Michael Arthur regarding the case of Hartley & Others v King Edward VI College [2017] UKSC 39 and your assertion on behalf of members of UCU (the details of which have not been provided), that some of them may have suffered unlawful deductions from their wages as the result of having participated in strike action during the period from November 2011 to date and having been subject to deductions from their wages at the rate of 1/260th of their annual salary for each day of absence due to participation in strike action, instead of 1/365th of their annual salary, which you assert would have been the correct rate. I note that UCU's position is that its members' employment contracts with UCL are materially similar to those of the Hartley claimants because such contracts require those employees to work such additional hours are as reasonably required for the proper performance of their duties.

Having reviewed UCL's standard Conditions of Service for Research, Teaching and Professional Services Staff, it's Conditions of Service for Academic Staff and other relevant UCL Policies, I am not currently in a position to accede to your request that UCL confirms that it will reimburse staff on the basis suggested in your email. I give my reasons below separately in respect of Academic and non-Academic staff.

Academic staff

The Hartley claimants' contracts of employment contained detailed terms setting out their obligations to undertake preparatory work in "undirected" time and expressly acknowledged that there was a requirement to work such hours as are necessary to meet those obligations outside of the normal term-time hours, including during weekends, evenings and/or days of annual leave. In contrast, it is clear from a review of the Conditions of Service for Academic Staff, together with other relevant policies, that there is no express or implied requirement for Academic Staff to work during weekends, evenings or during annual leave. Please note in particular that, unlike the contracts of the claimants in Hartley, there is no express term in the Conditions of Service for Academic Staff requiring them to undertake duties outside of their normal working time. Indeed, all that those Conditions provide is that the average notional working week for academic staff is 36.5 hours (clause 6.1).

Furthermore, there is a clear underlying assumption in a number of UCL Policies that these normal full-time hours of 36.5 hours per week consist of 7 hours, 18 minutes per day, from Monday to Friday inclusive and that Academic Staff are not expected to work on evenings or weekends or during annual leave. By way of example only and without limitation see:
?         The "Working Patterns" form, which refers to "full-time Monday to Friday";
?         The Work Life Balance Policy, which refers to " a normal working day - 7 hours and 18 minutes for those working a 36.5 hour working week" and other potential flexible working arrangements which employees can request change from a normal working week of Monday to Friday; and
?         The Academic Staff Consultancy Policy, which states, "Within UCL's financial year (Aug-July), academics are permitted to undertake a maximum of 40 days consultancy work which requires time away from UCL duties, on days when an individual would be expected to attend work at UCL. Permission to undertake such consultancy work will be subject to their Head of Department's (HoD's) approval as set out below. Part time academic staff may undertake consultancy up to a pro rata limit on total consultancy time, unless this conflicts with any specific contractual terms of their appointment.This "40-day" rule does not apply to consultancies that are carried out during private time (which may include evenings, weekends, holiday leave or UCL closure days) although these must still be declared and approved. Exceptions to the "40-day" rule may be allowed in circumstances of exceptional benefit to UCL with approval of the Dean. Non-academic staff are not normally eligible to undertake any consultancy within normal working hours." (paragraph 1.2)

It is therefore UCL's position that its employment contracts with UCU members who are subject to the Conditions of Service for Academic Staff are distinguishable from those of the claimants in the Hartley so as to render the appropriate deduction of salary for each day of absence due to participation in strike action as 1/260th of annual pay.

Non-academic staff

Unlike the Hartley claimants, the contracts of employment of permanent, annually paid employees engaged pursuant to UCL's Conditions of Service for Research, Teaching and Professional Services Staff, do not contain any express or implied obligation to work during weekends, evenings or during annual leave. Those Conditions refer to a working week for full-time members of staff of 36.5 hours per week excluding lunch hours and the right to overtime pay for hours worked outside those hours. Taking into account the policy documents referred to above in relation to Academic Staff (but excluding the Academic Staff Consultancy Policy), it is clear that normal full-time hours of 36.5 hours per week consist of 7 hours, 18 minutes per day, from Monday to Friday inclusive.

It is therefore UCL's position that its employment contracts with UCU members who are subject to the Conditions of Service for Research, Teaching and Professional Services Staff are distinguishable from those of the claimants in the Hartley so as to render the appropriate deduction of salary for each day of absence due to participation in strike action as 1/260th of annual pay.

Yours sincerely,

Fiona Ryland

Fiona Ryland
Executive Director 
UCL Human Resources
Tel: +44(0)20 3108 8816
UCL internal: x 57818
Mobile:07827819558


Comments

  1. UPDATE: professor David Price (UCL Vice Provost, Research) has been on twitter to say that UCL is not deducting at 1/260th but at 1/365th - contradicting the above letter.

    https://twitter.com/DavidPriceUCL/status/960607653767630849

    We hope he's right!

    ReplyDelete

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