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HE conditions of employment

UCU is recognised at national level within the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) to negotiate with the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA) over pay and conditions for academic and research staff, and, in pre-1992 institutions, for academic-related staff.

Many local UCU branches and local associations are also recognised by their individual institutions for the purposes of negotiating terms and conditions of academic staff, and in pre-1992 institutions academic-related staff.

There are a number of national JNCHES agreements - often presented as guidance documents - negotiated by the national employers' body and the higher education trade unions, which individual institutions are strongly encouraged to use as the minimum conditions for staff. These include guidance on the use of fixed term and hourly paid contracts and a range of agreements on equality issues such as equal pay audits and work-life balance.

There is also a national employment contract within post-92 institutions which should form the basis of the employment conditions within post-92 workplaces.

As with all employers, individual higher education institutions will develop and implement their own conditions of employment which may differ markedly from those at other workplaces. Within this there will be some conditions of service which are uncommon outside the sector, such as intellectual property or revenue-sharing agreements, or agreements covering research practice. Wherever UCU is recognised, terms and conditions should always be negotiated and agreed with UCU.

Governing statutes

All pre-1992 universities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are governed by a set of model statutes.

These statutes set out the tenure of office of academic staff, and cover dismissal, the procedures to be followed in cases of ill-health and the handling of staff grievances. They cannot be altered without the consent of the Privy Council under the terms of the Education Reform Act 1988.

There have been proposals to change the model statutes used by universities. UCU is concerned about these proposals which we believe are a threat to job security and the resulting revisions submitted by Universities UK and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association to the Privy Council.


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