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An update on 2020-21 pay negotiations, incremental progression and London weighting

8 September 2020

Following national pay negotiations for 2020-21, there will be no change to the base pay award for the upcoming year. Eligible staff below grade 10 will receive incremental progression as normal, and London weighting will increase by 2% with effect from August 2020.

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UCL, like most universities in the UK, currently takes part in national pay negotiation which determines any award that is applied to the base salary structure. National-level talks are held each year under the New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (New JNCHES) which form the basis of the annual pay review.

This year the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), who represent all UK universities as part of national pay bargaining, did so against a backdrop of significant financial challenges in the sector. The uncertainty created by COVID-19 means that universities including UCL are expecting to face large shortfalls in income over the 2020-21 academic year.

On 7 July 2020, UCEA representatives met with representatives of all Higher Education trade unions in a one‑off pay negotiation meeting for 2020–21. UCEA shared that, due to the financial impact of COVID‑19 on their member institutions, there could be no offer of a pay uplift for 2020–21. The recognised unions Unite, Unison and UCU have now responded to UCEA to confirm that their respective committees reject the employer’s position on pay, but are prepared to continue negotiation meetings on issues such as gender and ethnicity pay, casual employment arrangements and workload.

We know that this outcome, while essential to protect the viability of a number of universities, is disappointing for colleagues. UCL recognises and continues to be extremely grateful for the efforts of our staff, whose extraordinary contributions have helped to meet challenges created by the pandemic.

UCL supports UCEA’s proposal for a New JNCHES meeting in the autumn to review the financial position of the sector, when more information about student numbers will be available. Although there will be no national pay uplift for 2020-21, if circumstances allow, UCEA will be asked to begin negotiations earlier for the 2021-22 pay round.

This pay award is determined nationally. Other aspects of pay can be determined locally and UCL is committed to recognising and rewarding our staff where our finances allow. Eligible staff below grade 10 will still receive the automatic incremental pay progression as normal. For over half of these colleagues this means they will receive an incremental rise equivalent to a pay award of around 3% of base salary.  UCL is also increasing our London weighting by 2%. This will be processed in the September payroll but backdated to 1 August 2020. Increases related to the 2019/20 promotion round and other contribution-related pay increases below grade 10 (such as additional increments and honorarium payments) are also available.

UCL also aims to protect our lowest paid staff from the effects of the current crisis. The lowest rates of pay at UCL currently exceed the Living Wage Foundation’s campaign rate. As in the case each year, we will review the salaries near the bottom of our grading structure to ensure they continue to stay at or above the London Living Wage once any new rate is set.

If you have any questions about changes to your pay, please speak to your line manager in the first instance or get in touch with your HR Business Partner.