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UCL unilaterally changes redundancy payments scheme to severe detriment of staff with 5 or more years service

UCL Senior Reps to meet with HR. The Branch Chair, Secretary and Vice-Chair will be discussing this issue (and several others) with UCL HR in a meeting at 11am on Thursday 8th February.

UCL Redundancy Pay Calculator added - click here for spreadsheet

UCL Members Condemn Redundancy Pay Changes - Motion passed unanimously

Links To Sections on This Page

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No Negotiation, Consultation Nor Even Notification

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No Requirement To Change

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If Not The Age Discrimination Regs, Why Change The Scheme?

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What Are The Unions Doing About This?

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What Can We Do As Members?

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Worked Examples

In a move guaranteed to reduce the morale of long-serving employees even further, UCL have unilaterally changed their redundancy payments scheme in a way that will cause the large majority of staff severe detriment.

This comes at a time when UCL are making nearly 400 permanent posts redundant under the Provost's "Regeneration Plan". In addition to this further posts are being shed as a result of Departmental and Faculty "reviews" and "restructuring". Most of the staff in the posts being shed have been with UCL for many years. It is these staff who will be affected by the changes.

Under the old scheme, employees would receive the following payments if they were made redundant:
(number of weeks calculated using this table)
2-4 full years service    weekly pay capped (290pw, rising to 310pw from 1 Feb 2007)
5-9 full years service    actual weekly pay
10+ full years service    twice actual weekly pay

Under the new scheme, the payment will be 1.5 times the statutory redundancy payment (number of weeks as before, weekly pay capped at 290pw, rising to 310pw from 01 Feb 2007).

These changes will be detrimental to all staff with 10 or more years service, and staff on Grade 6 or above with 5 or more years service. The detriment gets worse as salary and length of service increase.  There will be a small benefit for staff with less than 5 years service, but at most this will be 580 (620 from 01 Feb 2007). We have provided some worked examples at the bottom of this page.

Particularly galling is the effect that this will have on staff who could take early retirement on grounds of redundancy. As they would almost all have 10 or more years service, they will suffer quite large detriment if made redundant. For someone with 20 or more years of service, their redundancy lump sum under the old scheme would have been enough to buy 3 or 4 additional years of contributions to their pension scheme. Under the new scheme they would be lucky if they could buy more than one year.

All three trade unions at UCL are shocked at this, and have written jointly to Sarah Brant, HR Director, complaining and requesting an urgent meeting.

UCL Amicus are opposed to all compulsory redundancies and will support all members who wish to fight any redundancy proposal involving them.

UCL claims to value its staff - this shows just how much value they place on them.

No Negotiation, Consultation Nor Even Notification

UCL have made these changes without negotiating, or having meaningful consultation, with the trade unions. They did not even have the common courtesy to inform us that they were making the changes. We only discovered the changes due to cases involving UCU and UNISON members.

UCL are arguing that there was no need to negotiate or consult with the trade unions as the old scheme was "non-contractual". We dispute this. The scheme had been operated consistently and automatically over a period of several years. It was well known to the trade unions and was widely known throughout UCL. As such, it had become an implied term, acquired through custom and practice. Therefore, any changes should have been negotiated.

UCL claims that it wants to work in partnership with the trade unions. There's very little chance of that when they are pulling stunts like this.

No Requirement To Change

UCL are arguing that the changes were required to comply with the Employment Equality (Age Discrimination) Regulations which came into effect on 1 October last year. This is untrue.

Under the regulations, any benefit acquired after 5 or fewer years service is exempt. There was no requirement to remove the lifting of the cap on weekly pay for the calculations.

Benefits that require more than 5 years service to acquire are allowed if the employer can justify them objectively. Such a justification can include rewarding loyalty or experience, or retaining experienced staff. This was the reason for the doubling of actual weekly pay for staff with 10 or more years service under the old scheme. There was no requirement to axe the doubling of weekly pay for long serving staff.

The only requirement placed on UCL by the regulations was to remove the upper and lower age limits for eligibility.

By making these changes when there was no legal requirement to do so, without negotiating or consulting with the trade unions and given that the old scheme was an implied term of contract, UCL has effectively committed a breach of contract.

If Not The Age Discrimination Regs, Why Change The Scheme?

We can only speculate as to UCL's real reasons for doing this. Several possibilities have been mooted.

  1. Financial - the current (and planned) redundancies may be costing UCL more than they anticipated.
  2. Not enough volunteers - if the reason isn't purely financial, maybe UCL is having trouble finding people wishing to go voluntarily under the Regeneration Plan. As this seems to be targeting long-serving staff, particularly on the higher grades, it is possible that UCL are trying to encourage staff to go "voluntarily" by making the payment they would get if compulsorily made redundant less than their "voluntary severance" package under Regeneration. There's an added advantage to UCL from this plan - if staff leave "voluntarily" they can't bring a claim for unfair dismissal.
  3. Incompetent advice - if they genuinely believe the changes were required, their advice may have been from an incompetent source. If so, they should not make use of that adviser in future. All three unions have received legal advice confirming that the old scheme would have been legal under the Regulations.
  4. That UCL is planning to make many more staff redundant, over and above those already known or expected under Regeneration and current reviews/restructuring, and these changes are intended to reduce the cost of these plans.

Of course, there could be other reasons. Any suggestions or information, please email them to us at amicus@ucl.ac.uk.

What Are The Unions Doing About This?

As stated above, the trade unions have written to Sarah Brant requesting an urgent meeting. Our hope is that we can negotiate a return to the old scheme, or an acceptable alternative. We would aim to improve on the old scheme if this was possible. We would also seek to retain the improved payments to staff who benefit under the new scheme.

If talks are refused or are unsuccessful, it may be necessary to pursue the dispute through industrial action which may or may not include strike action. If this is the case, all members at UCL will be balloted by the union and we will be recommending a vote in favour. Industrial action is always the last resort. Our hope is always that disputes can be resolved without it.

What Can We Do As Members?

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Let colleagues know what is happening

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Encourage non-members to join (for membership forms email amicus@ucl.ac.uk)

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Display any campaign posters we send you

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If talks fail, vote "Yes" for industrial action if this is the course we pursue as a union

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If you are faced with compulsory redundancy and would suffer detriment under the new scheme, let us know and we will advise you on pursuing a claim

Worked Examples

Grade

Spine Point

Age

Service

Salary (01 Aug 06)*

Actual Weekly Pay*

Weeks Redundancy

Old Scheme

New Scheme

Benefit / Deficit

5

20

38

2

18,137.00

424.50

2

580.00

870.00

290.00

4

4

1,160.00

1,740.00

580.00

8

8

3,395.96

3,480.00

84.04

12

12

10,187.88

5,220.00

-4,967.88

55

30

27

22,922.73

11,745.00

-11,177.73

6

27

38

2

26,633.00

510.64

2

580.00

870.00

290.00

4

4

1,160.00

1,740.00

580.00

8

8

4,085.08

3,480.00

-605.08

12

12

12,255.24

5,220.00

-7,035.24

55

30

27

27,574.29

11,745.00

-15,829.29

7

36

38

2

33,997.00

651.89

2

580.00

870.00

290.00

4

4

1,160.00

1,740.00

580.00

8

8

5,215.12

3,480.00

-1,735.12

12

12

15,645.36

5,220.00

-10,425.36

55

30

27

35,202.06

11,745.00

-23,457.06

8

43

38

2

41,244.00

790.96

2

580.00

870.00

290.00

4

4

1,160.00

1,740.00

580.00

8

8

6,327.64

3,480.00

-2,847.64

12

12

18,982.92

5,220.00

-13,762.92

55

30

27

42,711.57

11,745.00

-30,966.57

* Inclusive of London Weighting