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Landmark deal at University of Bristol to tackle gender pay gap

28 January 2020

Ambitious plans to eliminate the gender pay gap at the University of Bristol have been set out in a landmark agreement between the UCU at the University of Bristol and the institution's senior managers.

The deal is the culmination of 18 months of negotiations, following the UCU branch submitting a claim in March 2018 to tackle the gender pay gap at the university. The median pay gap between women and men at the University of Bristol is 13.6%, which is just below the national average in UK higher education of 15.1%.

The university and the union have now agreed a series of measures to tackle gender pay inequality at Bristol which include:

  • increased opportunities for progression for women
  • greater opportunities to work flexibly or to job share
  • funding for pilot schemes to allow research staff to continue working at the university between grants
  • training for all staff involved in recruitment and promotion processes.

The union said that increasing opportunities for advancement was crucial in tackling the gender pay gap, as more women at the university were employed in research-only and teaching-focussed roles, which often have less opportunity for career progression.

UCU said it also welcomed the move to invite all candidates to discuss flexible working and job share options when applying for jobs at the university. The university will gather data from all departments in areas such as part-time work and flexible working requests to ensure future plans to address the issue are based on the best possible evidence.

The news of the agreement comes as UCU members at Bristol and across the UK are locked in disputes with universities over pensions, and pay and conditions. Tackling inequality is one of the key elements of the disputes and the union said universities' national negotiators could learn from Bristol's approach.

The union also wants to see action on the growing problems of casualisation and workload in universities, as well as securing improved deals on pay and pensions.

Vice-president of Bristol UCU Suzy Cheeke said: 'This landmark agreement shows what can be achieved when universities work with us to tackle a problem head on. We now have a series of measures in place to deliver real positive change for women at the University of Bristol.'

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Instead of seeking to mitigate the seriousness of issues such as pay equality, casualisation and workloads, institutions across the sector should be looking to follow Bristol's example. Universities now need to put pressure on their representatives to provide firm proposals that address all the issues at the heart of the current disputes.'

Deputy vice-chancellor and provost at the University of Bristol, Professor Judith Squires, said: 'This agreement with UCU signifies our commitment to eliminating the gender pay gap. The University of Bristol and UCU have been working together on this issue since 2018 and have made real progress since then with new initiatives to support women's career development and a new academic promotions framework.

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