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My university will not be implementing the new pay framework until the last possible date - August 2006. Colleagues elsewhere have already seen their pay rise as a result of the new framework. Will my pay be backdated?
When the pay framework was first agreed more than a year ago there was a lot of excitement. But progress towards implementation of the framework has varied across universities. Some have the funds to implement it immediately and have acted quickly, others have been slower. The unions are frustrated at the slow pace of change in some universities - and have praised those that have been quick off the mark. The Universities and Colleges Employers' Association insists that, overall, progress is good.
So, it is not surprising that some of your colleagues in other universities have benefited from the agreement while others have not. The issue of backdating in such circumstances is clearly important - but not straightforward.
* The panellist for Ucea says: "The framework agreement provides for the details of new pay structures to be developed in partnership with recognised trade unions at each university and higher education college, with the resulting new structures being introduced by August 2006 (subject to funding considerations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)."
He adds: "The precise timing for implementation of the new pay structures at each institution, and associated issues about backdating, are matters for local negotiation. The framework makes clear that those negotiations should be pursued with mutual respect for the interests of all stakeholders and should reflect what is practicable and affordable."
* The trade unions generally concur with this interpretation - but give a little more detail. Our panellist from the Association of University Teachers says: "The framework agreement states that institutions are expected to use their best endeavours to introduce new pay arrangements from August 1, 2004 and to complete implementation by August 2006. A number of institutions have implemented new pay arrangements and more will do so from August 1 this year."
He goes on: "It is more than a year since the agreement was ratified by all unions and the AUT believes that all institutions should either have agreed and implemented new pay structures with their trade unions, or be very close to doing so. Where new structures are yet to be agreed, AUT negotiators will be pressing for local agreements as soon as possible, including appropriate backdating to ensure all staff see the benefits of the framework agreement and memorandum of understanding."
The memorandum of understanding was signed by the AUT and Ucea. It brought to an end AUT concerns about the framework agreement. In particular, it protected the career earnings expectations of academic and academic-related staff.
* The panellist from lecturers' union Natfhe says: "Employers have until August 2006 to implement the framework agreement. When it is implemented in each institution, there will be two elements in the pay rise. First, there will be the benefits of assimilation to the pay spine from your old grade.
This averages 1.2 per cent for staff. Second, there is the benefit from any improvement in your grade. While the majority of academic staff are expected to remain on the equivalent grade to their current one (for example senior lecturers move to grade Ac3 in post-92 institutions) a minority will have greater benefits. Some staff will be upgraded."
On the issue of backdating, the panellist says: "There is no entitlement to have either of these pay benefits backdated. Part of local negotiations in many institutions has included seeking commitment from employers to backdate the assimilation increases to either August 2004 or August 2005. Some have agreed, some have not. Natfhe has pressed hard for backdating, with some success, but it is aware there is no contractual entitlement."
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