Lack of records gets London Met in trouble with CRE

February 10, 2006

London Metropolitan University has broken race relations laws by failing to monitor properly the impact of a performance-related pay scheme on its ethnic minority staff, the Commission for Racial Equality has found.

According to letters obtained by The Times Higher , Tushar Singh, CRE enforcement officer, concluded after an investigation that "the university failed to meet its statutory duty", as it was unable to provide any evidence that it had carried out a race equality assessment of its performance appraisal and development award scheme (Padas) in 2002.

But the university this week said it did not accept the CRE's ruling. A spokesman insisted that an assessment was carried out but was simply not formally recorded. He stressed that the CRE had decided to take no action over the alleged breach.

The Times Higher reported in May last year that the university had been the subject of a complaint by lecturers' union Natfhe.

Under the Race Relations Act 1976, universities have a responsibility to "assess the impact of its policies on students and staff of different racial groups".

A university must make clear "its arrangements for publishing the results of its assessment and monitoring".

In a letter to Natfhe dated December 6 last year, Mr Singh, said: "The university is claiming that although it did not keep any written records of an impact assessment in 2002, it did nevertheless assess the impact of the Padas scheme.

"On balance... it appears that the university failed to meet its statutory duty" under the Race Relations Act.

On January 9, Mr Singh reiterated his point in a letter to Lyn Link, London Met's director of human resources: "I believe it is fair to conclude the university failed to undertake an impact assessment, and therefore was in breach of its statutory duty. However, the commission is satisfied that the university is now complying with its statutory duties with regard to the Padas scheme, and therefore no further action is being considered at this point."

Roger Kline, head of universities at Natfhe, said that it was "astonishing"

that a university with a high proportion of black and ethnic minority students "couldn't get a basic legal requirement right on such an important and high-profile issue".

The London Met spokesman said an assessment was carried out, and staff were willing to sign an affidavit to confirm this, but he said there had been no obligation to make a written record of such assessments at the time.

"If the CRE really thought there was a breach and had proof of a breach, I believe that they would have pursued it. Instead, they have told us that the matter is closed and no action will be taken."

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