2019–20 Pay Negotiations

An update from Tracy Wray, Director of Human Resources and Communications, on the 2019–20 national pay negotiations.

Dear colleague,

I am writing to let you know that the national pay negotiation process has now concluded and we have been advised by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), the employers' representative in the negotiations, to implement the final pay offer. This will take place in September's payroll, effective from and backdated to 1 August 2019, with arrears paid in September payroll.

All staff paid on the University of Sheffield Grading Structure, Professorial Pay and Professorial Equivalent Pay Structures will receive an uplift of 1.8 per cent (with higher uplifts of up to 3.65 per cent for those on points 2 to 16). The uplifted salary scales can be found on our pay and grading web pages.

We are aware that the trade unions which participate in the national pay negotiations have rejected the offer. In the interests of ensuring colleagues receive the pay offer as quickly as possible, we are following guidance issued by UCEA, to implement the pay uplift with effect from 1 August 2019. The relevant national trade unions have already been informed of the application of the final pay offer.

The offer also includes the removal of point 2 of the national pay spine (Grade 1.2 on the University of Sheffield Grading Structure), by April 2020 at the latest. This is to ensure that salaries on this point stay ahead of statutory National Living Wage rises. We would also like to make this change in September's payroll, effective from and backdated to 1 August 2019. As this will require a change to our local grade structures it is subject to agreement with our local trade unions and we have contacted them to seek this agreement.

This would mean that staff currently paid on Grade 1.2 would be moved to what is currently Grade 1.3, therefore getting an overall pay uplift (inclusive of pay award) of 5.64 per cent to £16,736 per annum (£9.17 per hour). This is above the current statutory living wage rate of £8.21 per hour and also compares favourably with the current Voluntary Living Wage Foundation rate of £9 per hour.

In addition, to ensure that the consistency of the grading structure is maintained as a result of the removal of point 2, we are also proposing to create a new exceptional increment point at Grade 1.4, and remove current Grade 2.1. These further changes, which are also subject to agreement with our local trade unions, would mean that:

  • All individuals paid on the current exceptional increment point of Grade 1.3 will get uplifted to a new exceptional increment point, Grade 1.4.
  • All individuals currently paid on Grade 2.1 will be uplifted to Grade 2.2, an overall pay uplift of 5.57 per cent (inclusive of pay award). Grade 2.1 would be removed for future use.

These specific changes will affect nearly 400 of our staff on grades 1 and 2.

We will aim to seek agreement with our local trade unions on these additional pay structure changes by early September 2019, in order to ensure they can be processed in September and backdated to 1 August 2019, along with the pay award. We will continue to work closely with local trade unions on the non-pay elements of the claim and the final offer, including gender pay gap, casual working and workload issues.

The updated pay structures, including the above proposals to amend the lower points in line with the removal of point 2, and further information on the work that we have undertaken with trade unions on the non-pay elements of the offer can be found below.

Many thanks

Tracy Wray

Director of Human Resources and Communications

How we’re working with our local trade unions

We continue to work locally on a range of matters which are of concern to trade unions and colleagues across the sector to find ways to address areas such as academic workload pressures, stress and mental health concerns, casual working and career progression for academic staff. We will continue to engage with colleagues and our local trade unions on these matters. The positive progress we have made on these issues to date is summarised below. 

Gender and race equality

We are committed to creating gender balance across the workforce and have successfully taken actions to reduce our gender pay gap. In 2017, we formed a working group that includes trade union colleagues to jointly and proactively work to understand the causes of our gender pay gap, and agree actions to decrease it. We are in the process of agreeing a new action plan to reduce our gender pay gap at a greater pace.

We are also committed to integrating ethnicity pay gap reporting into our gender pay gap reporting, in line with the Caught at the Crossroads report?, and ahead of the expected legislative requirement to do so. We have amended the terms of reference of our local joint working group to consider ethnicity data ahead of any statutory requirements.

Our approach to working in partnership with trade union colleagues in this area has been highlighted as an example of good practice in the New JNCHES Equal Pay Reviews and Gender Pay Gap Reporting. In addition, we have set ourselves ambitious targets as part of our new Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan, which aims to tackle issues of under-representation, progression and attainment of Black, Asian and Other Minority Ethnic (BAME) colleagues. The Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan, which will be reported to the Equality Diversity & Inclusion Committee via the University Race Equality Steering Group, contains specific actions to increase the percentage of BAME senior and professorial staff, and professional services staff, and to continue working with recruiting managers to proactively develop interventions to improve the diversity of the talent pool.

Wellbeing and workloads

As part of our work to improve staff wellbeing, we have established a Stress Risk Management Working Group. The group includes colleagues from Human Resources, Health and Safety and trade unions, who are working collaboratively to ensure that we are able to identify and mitigate stress at the earliest opportunity.

The group has developed a Departmental Stress Risk Assessment and Action Plan template with accompanying guidance, and the identified departments have been invited to participate in stress and resilience training, which is being piloted over the next six months via Health and Safety.

We have also established an academic workload group, chaired by Professor Craig Watkins, Vice-President and Head of the Faculty of Social Sciences and member of our University Executive Board, involving trade union colleagues and academics. The working group aims to establish how the University can better support academic staff to deliver excellent research, teaching and leadership without a detrimental impact on their wellbeing due to workloads.

We recognise the importance of creating a positive environment where colleagues are supported and feel able to talk openly and with trust about mental health problems and seek help if necessary.

A number of colleagues have completed the Mental Health First Aid training, with priority given to those in student-facing roles and to those who regularly encounter people in distress. We also held an Introduction to Mental Health session for staff delivered by Sheffield Mind during Mental Health Awareness Week in May 2019, and further activity is planned for World Mental Health Day in October 2019. We hope to develop an in-house group of Mental Health First Aid instructors who will be able to deliver further training in a variety of formats to suit different needs. You can read about all the support we offer on our wellbeing web pages.

Casual working

Over the past year, following discussions with University and college Union (UCU) colleagues, we have confirmed our commitment to ensure all regular scheduled teaching is undertaken by staff on employment and not casual contracts. Details can be found on our teaching engagements web pages.

We continue to monitor external funding streams and look to see where we can transfer fixed-term contracts to open-ended contracts where there is some certainty the funding is likely to continue. Following feedback from several departments we will be creating a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) employment contract at Grade 7. This is to recognise the type of work some departments have told us they need postgraduate research students to carry out and will be available for departments to use from September 2019. This builds on the constructive work we have previously undertaken with our UCU colleagues to agree the employment status and terms of employment for our postgraduate research students who undertake teaching alongside their studies.

Further details about all of the above can be found on our HR web pages