Ask the panel

August 19, 2005

My university has announced that our jobs are to be evaluated as part of the new pay framework. The university is using the Higher Education Role Analysis (Hera) scheme, but colleagues at other universities say their institutions are using the Hay job-evaluation scheme. What are the main differences and should I be concerned?

Academics throughout the UK are having their jobs evaluated for transfer to the new pay spine.

* Our panellist from Natfhe says: "Job evaluation will be taking place across all universities with the intention of ensuring equal pay. The process is a cornerstone of the new national pay framework. The majority of institutions are using the Hera scheme, which has been developed specifically for use in higher education. Hera and Hay, the other main scheme, both use a combination of "factors", within which are "levels", to try to objectively work out the "weight" of a particular job so that it can be ranked in an order that in turn can be linked to a pay scale."

He says that there have been fears among staff that the Hay process might not be suitable for academic staff because it was developed for managerial and clerical staff in the private sector. There have also been concerns that Hay is less transparent than Hera - the argument being that it is less easy to see how the rankings are compiled.

"In fact, although the 'factors' it uses are somewhat different from those of Hera, the outcomes appear to be rather similar for academic staff," the panellist argues. "The key concerns for trade unions have been that the process is agreed with union representatives, that it is equality-proofed and that the local processes use the national role profiles developed for academic staff so that only a small fraction of staff need to be evaluated.

This has been agreed almost everywhere and, as a result, staff have generally been placed on the new pay spine using the national job profiles and the grades within appendix C of the new agreement.

"So the real concern for staff," he concludes, "should not be which scheme is used, but how the scheme is applied. Above all, it must be a joint union-management process, not the unilateral imposition by management of a particular scheme."

* Our panellist from the Association of University Teachers says: "The framework agreement states that the allocation to new grades will be based on the outcome of institution-wide job-evaluation/role analysis. The majority of universities are using Hera, which was specifically designed for the higher education sector, but some have chosen Hay, which has been widely used in the private sector and other parts of the public sector."

He adds: "The AUT is happy to work in partnership with institutions to implement job evaluation and role analysis using either Hera or Hay once we have reached agreement on the design of the new pay structure to be implemented. Job evaluation should be implemented in a light-touch way, using the agreed national role profiles for academic staff, including research staff. This means only a selection of benchmark roles, not all individual jobs, need to be evaluated. Your local union representatives will be able to give you more information about the status of the job-evaluation exercise at your institution and advise whether you should participate."

* The panellist from the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association says: "About four fifths of higher education institutions are using Hera, with one fifth opting for Hay. Both schemes are suitable for the purpose and their use has been agreed with trade unions.

The aim is to assess relativities in job weight across all groups of staff, so that they can be allocated to grades on a basis that ensures equal pay for work of equal value. The focus is on relativities within individual higher education institutions. Comparisons are not made with job evaluation outcomes at other institutions and it thus does not matter that a different evaluation scheme is used elsewhere."

This advice panel includes the Association of University Teachers, Natfhe, the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association, Research Councils UK and Rachel Flecker, an academic who sits on Bristol University's contract research working party.

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