Commercial and Procurement Services


Update on pay and benefits for UCL's security, cleaning, portering and catering staff

15 December 2023

Our frontline outsourced colleagues in security, portering and catering are now paid some of the best rates for these roles in the sector, and since 2021 are now on equivalent pay and benefits to colleagues directly employed by UCL.

Some specialist services at UCL, including security, cleaning, portering and catering have been managed by external providers at UCL since 2000, in line with many other higher education institutions in the UK.

In 2019, following successful engagement with our contractors and their recognised trade union UNISON, we committed to harmonising pay and benefits for our contracted security, portering and catering staff and ensuring those not already on equal terms with colleagues directly employed by UCL would receive the same, or equivalent pay and core benefits by August 2021.

Since then, through an investment of approximately £10 million each year (£9.2 million 2022/23), and as a result of UCL’s new pay and reward strategy which represents an investment of £110.2m in our staff salaries over four years, our frontline outsourced colleagues are now paid some of the best rates for these roles in the sector, and since 2021 are now on equivalent pay and benefits to colleagues directly employed by UCL.

The enhancements to outsourced colleagues’ pay and benefits since 2019, which are now matched with in-house staff, include:

  • Since August 2021 – Pension scheme contributions were significantly increased- with current combined contributions well over 20% . Pension schemes more typically seen in the cleaning, catering and security industries are closer to the Governments statutory legal minimum contribution – with 8% combined contributions.
  • Since August 2021 – Allowance of special leave, inclusive of carers leave, urgent personal leave, compassionate leave, enhanced maternity & paternity leave.
  • Since July 2020 – Increased sickness pay, with up to 26 weeks full sick pay and 26 weeks half sick pay.
  • Since April 2020 – Pay scales (up to and including grade 7) levelled up for frontline security, cleaning, portering and catering staff in line with directly employed staff.
  • Since December 2019 – Increased annual leave entitlement, 41 days inclusive of Bank Holidays and UCL shutdowns.

2023 pay and reward strategy update

On 21 July 2023, UCL set out a new pay and reward strategy, representing an investment of £110.2m in our staff salaries over four years.

As a result of our commitment to parity of pay and benefits for outsourced colleagues, these adjustments were also applied to cleaning, catering, portering and security colleagues working for partner organisations. We are an accredited member of the London Living Wage scheme and our external providers are required to pay contracted staff at UCL at least the London Living Wage. As a result of the rises to the lower end of our pay scale, contracted colleagues are now earning between 9% to 15% more.

The local measures in this package raise the median pay award for our staff to 9.5% in 2023 (including incremental progression and the national pay settlement). The two key changes for our outsourced colleagues include:

  • An increase in the London Allowance to £4,500 from August 2023, followed by an increase to £5,000 from December 2023 for staff in Grades 1-7. This measure is aimed at providing a significant and immediate flat rate rise to our middle and lower paid staff while also improving the gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps.
  • Raising the maximum increase to pay scales for Grades 1-7 – Staff, out of probation, who have been at the top of the existing automatic grade zone on 1 August 2022 move up an increment from December 2023, and all staff within the normal zone of Grades 1-7 now progress to higher points in the longer term than under the current structure.