The UCL-UCU PGTA campaign began during the 2018/19 Four Fights dispute, campaigning for secure contracts, fair pay, transparency, and no outsourcing.
At the moment, we are particularly concerned about the possibility of precarious staff being pressured to teach face-to-face, and we urge you to contact us if this is happening. It is so important that PGTAs join UCU - you are entitled free membership if you are a research student alongside teaching.
We can be contacted at email@example.com - Catherine and Saffron are the PGTA Representatives on the UCL-UCU Branch Executive, but we have organisers in several other departments. If you would like to organise in your department, please get in touch!
UCL has a PGTA Code of Practice. You should make sure your department treats you at least as well as this, and come to us or complain if they don’t. This code has improved significantly following our pressure last year. Note in particular that:
- PGTAs should be paid at Grade 6: £15.32 – £19.45 per hour (although this should be calculated as a fraction of a full-time job rather than hourly), increasing with each year’s experience. Please see below for more details on pay.
- PGTAs should receive additional pay in lieu of annual leave, and be paid for preparation and assessment time.
- PGTAs should receive employment contracts – not simply casual, informal agreements or zero-hours ‘terms of engagement’. We are employees, with rights to sick pay and parental leave.
- The generic PGTA job description and person specification is here. Departments should not expect you to do significantly more (or less) than this.
Unless you are engaged in genuine intermittent short-term working, you should have an employment contract. It is crucial you confirm this, as this is what will ensure you are entitled to sick pay.
At present, administrators in departments and faculties are attempting to convert ‘as and when’ contracts based on hours of work to ‘full time equivalents’ (FTEs) to put them on payroll. This is taking some time, and unfortunately current advice from HR is incomplete.
The biggest problem appears to be a confusion about adding the extra hours of annual leave earned by the employee for performing those hours of work in making the translation to FTE. (For hourly-paid staff who are not employees, annual leave must be added in as a separate payment so that it appears separately in payslips.)
APPENDIX: Calculating FTE from hours (for 2020-21 academic year)
The following simple calculation applies to all staff appointed to UCL standard contracts for the next session, irrespective of grade or role.
In the 2020-21 year (September-August) there are 365 days. On UCL standard employment contracts, staff have 27 days annual leave and 14 closures or bank holidays. For 2020-21, UCL has also agreed 3 additional closure days at Christmas. This means that there are approximately 217 working days expected of a full time employee, each with 7.3 hours a day (36.5 hours per week), i.e. h(1) = 1,582 hours of work.
To calculate the annual FTE of any part time worker one can convert the total number of working hours required without holidays, h, by simply dividing it by the working hours of full time employees without holidays, h(1) = 1,582. This is a direct proportion, or ‘pro-rata’ calculation.
Annual FTE = h / h(1) = h / 1582.
Under Regulation 5 of the Part Time Workers Regulations 2000, part time workers must be paid no less than the resulting figure (they can lawfully be paid more).
To calculate a concentrated FTE spread over a limited number of months, simply multiply the annual FTE figure by 12/m, where m is the number of months in which payments will be made.
Other methods involving attempting to first work out closure days are prone to error and could lead to a pro-rata figure that is less defensible, for example because staff may end up doing work tasks (like marking or meetings) after the official end date of contracts.
Although the instructions are currently unclear, the spreadsheet calculator provided by HR requires you to add holidays and closure days, but it would be easy to miss the three additional days, resulting in a lower payment below pro-rata.
Our advice to administrators is use the simple method above, and our advice to PGTAs is to check their figures!