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Calculation of fractional/pro-rata contracts for teaching staff/lecturers

20 October 2008

The UCU believes that the use of fractional (pro-rata) contracts is the most appropriate method of calculating the pay of part-time staff in all but exceptional circumstances.

However, many part-time staff are currently employed on an hourly-paid basis. It is UCU policy to seek the conversion of hourly-paid contracts to fractional/pro-rata contracts (or full-time contracts if enough hours are worked).

This document sets out the process by which this can be done and starts by assuming that the member of staff is currently employed on an hourly-paid contract.

The process of determining fractional/pro-rata contracts is distinct from the calculation of new hourly rates of pay under the Framework Agreement. It would place hourly-paid staff onto fractional/pro-rata contracts and therefore pay would be expressed as an annual salary. For example, if the rate of pay is £30,000 per annum and a member of staff is working 0.5 of a full-time equivalent (FTE) post their salary would be £15,000 per annum.

To determine a fractional/pro-rata salary you need to establish:

Once these are established then the appropriate salary is easily calculated - the notion of hourly rates of pay is irrelevant.

The correct grade and pay point

The correct grade will be established by use of role analysis/job evaluation and the use of the national academic role profiles. The profiles are in 3 families: teaching and scholarship, teaching and research and research and each cover 4 or 5 levels (grades). The profiles set out what is expected at each grade and ensure equal pay for work of equal value between the different job families: the profiles can be found on the UCEA website

For hourly-paid lecturers, the correct grade will be at level 2* or above (equivalent to non-hourly-paid lecturers). The starting point for that grade may vary from institution to institution but should, in no cases, be lower than point 30 of the national pay spine.

Caution is needed to make sure that staff are graded according to the duties that they carry out - not according to their current title. For example, many hourly-paid lecturers will in fact be carrying out duties commensurate with that of a senior lecturer.

For staff being assimilated to a new grading structure under the Framework Agreement, the grade should be determined in the manner set out above, not by reference to current job title or current pay. Within the grade, an hourly-paid member of staff should be assimilated to the pay point at or above their current level of pay.

Once on the grade, all staff should have access to annual incremental progression to the top of the grade.

* Institutions will use different terminology to refer to academic grades 1-5. However, the academic level 2 is the entry grade for lecturers with grade 5 being equivalent to a professorial position.

The full-time equivalent (FTE) with which comparison is to be made

In the post-92 sector there is a national workload agreement which stipulates that formal scheduled teaching responsibilities should not exceed 18 hours in any one week or 550 hours in the teaching year. The remaining time is for teaching preparation and support, administration, and self-managed research and scholarly activity.

Therefore, in the post-92 sector the comparable full-time equivalent is 550 hours of teaching a year.

In the pre-92 sector there is no such national workload agreement. However if there is a local workload agreement which stipulates maximum formal scheduled teaching hours then this would be the comparable full time equivalent.

Where no such workload agreement exists then the full-time equivalent will be determined by the number of hours worked by a comparable employee on a full-time contract.

To calculate this the working hours per week (or notional hours per week), annual leave, bank holidays and closure days all need to be taken into account.

For example, if:

  • full time staff work 37 hours per week
  • annual leave is 6 weeks (30 days) per annum
  • there are 3 weeks (15 days) of bank holidays and closure days
  • then the FTE hours of work are: 37 x (52-(6+3)) = 37 x 43 = 1591 per annum.

These figures will need to be amended to take account of local circumstances but hours of work should not exceed 37 per week.

The number of hours worked

Where the FTE relates to teaching hours only (in the post-92 sector and pre-92 institutions with workload agreements) then the number of hours for comparison is the number of teaching hours undertaken by the hourly-paid member of staff.

Where the FTE relates to all working hours, then the number of hours worked by the hourly-paid member of staff must take account of all hours worked - not just contact teaching hours. The number of teaching hours is not a reflection of the number of hours actually worked but is merely an indication of the contracted contact teaching time. Full account needs to be taken of all the activities undertaken by hourly-paid teaching staff to support their teaching activity.

These can be very diverse, including for example, line management and course leadership. In calculating the hours of work done in support of teaching activity, the contract should include time for:

  • preparation
  • course design
  • marking
  • student support including pastoral care
  • supervision
  • administration
  • compliance with institutional procedures
  • communication with colleagues and students
  • attendances at meetings; and
  • self-managed research and scholarly activity.

For many hourly-paid staff, agreement on the actual hours worked can easily be reached between the hourly-paid member of staff and their line manager.

For example (figures for illustrative purposes only):

  • contracted teaching hours = 10 pw for 30 weeks (in 2 hour blocks) = 300
  • preparation of course and materials before start of course = 50
  • preparation before each class = 1 hour = 150
  • marking = 2 hours pw for 30 weeks = 60
  • student support = 1.5 hours pw for 30 weeks = 45
  • administration = 1.5 hours pw for 30 weeks = 45
  • meetings = 1 hour per fortnight for 30 weeks = 15
  • own directed research and scholary activity = 4 weeks per annum = 140
  • total hours worked per annum = 805

As this process will still involve input from individual employees it is important that individual members feel supported by UCU and do not feel under pressure to agree to a pro-rata contract that fails to recognise the working hours necessary to fulfil their contractual teaching obligations, or which removes other responsibilities from them against their wishes.

In some circumstances it may be beneficial for the UCU to negotiate with the employer on a formulaic approach to work out the average hours worked per annum. Where this is done the following principles should be met:

  • no detriment
  • pay for all hours worked
  • equal pay.

There are a number of ways in which this could be approached but one method would be to add a factor (of at least 1.5 hours) to each teaching hour to cover the additional activities and calculate accordingly.

The factor added to each teaching hour should be at least 1.5 hours but may need to be increased to take into account the actual time required to deliver a teaching hour.

Adding 1.5 hours to every teaching hours means that the number of teaching hours must be multiplied by a factor of 2.5 to get the total number of hours worked (e.g, 1 teaching hour = 2.5 hours worked in total, 2 teaching hours = 5 hours worked in total, 100 teaching hours = 250 hours worked in total).

It is important to remember that unless pay is provided for all hours worked then equal pay will be undermined. It is not acceptable for employers to concede that hourly-paid staff are entitled to higher pay but attempt to restrict the number of hours for which payment is made or to use a factor of less than 2.5 in calculating average hours in an attempt to reduce costs.

Calculation of the fractional/pro-rata contract

Once the FTE and actual number of hours worked have been determined then the calculation of the fractional contract is fairly straightforward.

  1. In the post-92 sector and pre-92 sector where there is a workload agreement then the fractional contract is calculated as follows:

    Number of teaching hours undertaken per annum ÷ number of teaching hours specified in workload agreement

    For example, an hourly-paid lecturer in the post-92 sector teaching 300 hours per annum:

    300 ÷ 550 = 0.54 of a full time post.

    So salary would be 0.54 x full-time salary
  2. Where full time equivalent is calculated by reference to all available working hours and hours worked is by reference to all the hours worked to deliver teaching commitment then the fractional contract is calculated as follows:

    Number of actual hours worked per annum ÷ number of hours worked by full-time staff per annum

    In the examples above, the number of actual hours to deliver 300 teaching hours was calculated as 805 hours per annum. The number of hours worked by full-time staff was calculated as 1591 hours per annum. So the fractional contract in this case would be:

    805 ÷ 1591 = 0.51 of a full-time post

    So salary would be 0.51 x full-time salary
  3. Where full time equivalent is calculated by reference to all available working hours but hours worked are calculated by adding at least 1.5 hours to each teaching hour then the fractional contract is calculated as follows:

    number of teaching hours per annum x (at least) 2.5 ÷ number of hours worked by full-time staff per annum

    For someone contracted for 300 teaching hours per annum where the number of hours worked by full-time staff was calculated as 1591 hours per annum the fractional contract would be:

    (300 x 2.5) ÷ 1591 = 750 ÷ 1591 = 0.47 of a full-time post

    So salary would be 0.47 x full-time salary

Conversion to fractional/pro-rata contracts should not lead to any cuts in pay for staff moving from hourly-paid contracts. In fact, if full recognition is given to the required working time (as it should be) then it is likely that overall income will increase. This is because it is our belief that at present large numbers of hourly-paid teaching/lecturing staff are inadequately recompensed for all the work that they undertake and the hours that they spend working in support of their teaching activity. Insistence by the employer that conversion is at zero cost is not acceptable if staff are currently not being paid for all the hours they actually work or are being paid a rate of pay below comparable salaried staff.

Whatever approach is taken it is important that hourly-paid members and potential members are kept informed and are able to input into the process.

Last updated: 20 October 2008