Arguments of merit

July 9, 1999

Peter Humphreys may well be right that we need "a pay structure that rewards merit", but PRP is not the answer. I have been on PRP for the past four years. Each year I get a small rise roughly in line with inflation and a polite letter from my line manager thanking me for a "successful year".

At no time has anyone explained how my pay is related to my performance - does a rise in line with inflation indicate a "good" or an "average" performance? I discovered that there is a "standard" rise determined for the year in question by the directorate and (presumably) offered to most employees on PRP. I am unaffected by national pay awards, although it says in my contract that such awards should be "taken into account".

PRP is therefore being used as a means to achieve "local" pay scales without being seen to do so and to operate a closer managerial control over the pay budget. If it is being used to reward and motivate individuals through a more transparent relationship between effort and reward, then this is not evident. School-teachers know that this is what PRP will mean for them. I hope university teachers will not be duped.

Ursula Sharma, University of Derby, Soapbox, page 18

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