Laurie Taylor Column

September 22, 2006

Understanding the Framework Agreement

Dave Goodenough, Deputy Assistant Head of Human Resources at Poppleton University, replies to questions about the modernisation of pay structures.

Q. What exactly is the framework agreement?

A. There is nothing exact about the framework agreement.

Q. What was the deadline for implementation?

A. August 2006.

Q. How many universities met that deadline?

A. Half.

Q. Only half?

A. You've made your point.

Q. I'm told the agreement uses a complex computerised role analysis to ensure equal pay for equal work. Has this been achieved?

A. Except for a few minor qualifications: a. Academic staff at leading universities will continue to receive more than their colleagues at all other universities b. Market forces will allow universities to pay as much as they like to recruit or maintain academic staff c. Otherwise most people will get more or less what they got before.

Q. So some staff could be worse off?

A. We call it "red circling". But careful implementation by dedicated academics and human resources professionals has ensured that the only losers (apart from three deadbeat senior lecturers at a Welsh university) will be cleaners, porters, secretaries, technicians and other general functionaries.

Q. Can I submit myself to role analysis in the hope of receiving more pay?

A. Frankly, we'd rather you didn't.

Q. How much did it all cost?

A. Costs were ruthlessly kept down to the £880 million allocated to universities under the Rewarding and Developing Staff initiative.

Q. And the cost of implementation? All those consultants and extra human resources staff?

A. The Universities and Colleges Employers' Association was recently asked the same question.

Q. And the answer?

A. They had absolutely no idea.

Q. Framework Agreement is rather a heavyweight term. Is there an accepted abbreviation?

A. Indeed. General recognition of the effects of the agreement upon pre-existing pay structures has led it to be affectionately known as "sweet F.A.".

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