3 The future of Pay and Conditions Determination: Mechanisms
4 Pay levels
5 Other conditions of employment
6 Staff development
7 Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
8 Clinical academics
The Committee of Inquiry was established by the
employers in response to Recommendation 50 of the Dearing Inquiry
and adopted Lord Dearing's terms of reference.(note
i) The Committee comprised five union, five employer and
five independent representatives plus Sir Michael Bett (Chair).
The secretariat was led by Peter Thorpe (DfEE) and the staffing
provided by the Office of Manpower Economics (OME), the body
does all the technical work for the independent pay review bodies.
The Bett Report contains a summary of all proposals.
However, this commentary sets out the links between proposals scattered
throughout the Report so that the strategic and practical issues
can be assessed properly. The commentary is largely factual although
it assesses the positive opportunities and negative risks in the
main recommendations. Thus, the Commentary is descriptive rather
than policy making.
The Report is explicit on the status of its processes
and the role of committee members. The process was not collective
bargaining and it does not commit the organisation from which committee
members were drawn. Members tried to convince one another of proposals,
tried to find solutions where there was no consensus, and are also
explicitly able to argue for what they believe is right in the post-Bett
period where they cannot agree with the recommendations.
There will be a post-Bett period. If rejected, the
Report will not disappear. It is bound, in different areas, to be
promoted by various employers and unions as a bargaining agenda.
For this reason it is crucial to take two steps:
The Association's negotiators need policy guidance for the
Where possible the Association should work together with broadly
like-minded organisations to improve the prospects of success,
and in this context, this commentary notes with pleasure the
cooperation during the work of the committee with MSF and NATFHE,
and the improving prospects of cooperation with EIS. (note ii)
Readers of the Report will doubtless find much they
dislike - that is the recent history of all reports into higher
education. Yet it will be important to identify any opportunities
for advance, however difficult. Our call for independent pay review,
our criticism of the workload crisis, our analysis of the supine
attitude of the UCEA (note iii) and
some vice-chancellors in the face of successive governments, have
drawn us repeatedly to the conclusion that the status quo is a lousy
option. Others have, for their own reasons, reached the same conclusion.
AUT and its allies must find a new, joint way forward.
The Committee collected huge volumes
of data on staff numbers, pay and related employment matters. It
established sound data on gender, mode of employment (full or part-time)
and terms (permanent, fixed-term or casual). This data was long
overdue and forms a good basis for future data collection.
Studies to gather information on recruitment
and retention were concluded, as were studies on comparative pay
levels. The results are considered elsewhere in this Commentary.
What is vital is that knowledge of
the sector should never again be as poor. The proposal in the Report
to appoint the OME as a permanent secretariat to the higher education
(HE) sector negotiators is central, and to be welcomed.
Nor should it be acceptable that individual
universities and colleges fail to collect data adequately in future,
including ethnic monitoring. AUT should insist that all data needed
by OME, plus additional data which we might reasonably require,
should be made available on a timely and routine basis to local
associations (LAs). LAs should in turn submit the data to the research
department at head office.
3 The future of Pay and
Conditions Determination: Mechanisms
At paragraphs 76 to 82, the Report
considers and rejects the formation of a standing pay review committee.
AUT rejected this conclusion.
The significant majority for rejection had, individually, very
different reasons. Unison believed it would underpin what it saw
as an elitist distinction between academic and related staff and
others. NATFHE thought it would:
not be accepted by government because it would award too much
money to staff, and
get in the way of free collective bargaining especially on
conditions of employment.
The employers' representatives said it would impede management
discretion, which they wished to extend. It would reduce their role
as employers. The vice-chancellors from the pre-1992 universities
noted they supported the concept if there were a government commitment
to fund outcomes. Independent members varied in opinion but, in
general, believed it would be hard to operate in the face of such
divisions. The chair, Sir Michael Bett, made the more substantial
argument based on his long-term support for and involvement in review
bodies - the arrangements in HE are so chaotic that (unlike nurses,
midwives, doctors, etc.) they would need to be substantially clarified
if a review body were to do a sound job. This might, however, become
possible. MSF have been broadly supportive. TGWU has expressed no
Employers said they support a single
national system. The extent of the freedoms within it, which they
seek, suggests that it would rapidly decay into local pay determination.
The general secretary concluded in months of discussion, and hearing
evidence from personnel directors, that this is their aim. The extent
of the discretion's they seek are set out in the Report and in this
commentary at paragraph 3.8.2.
It was agreed that the current 10 bargaining
groups, reflecting splits on the binary basis, between parts of
the UK, and between all groups of staff cannot be sustained, However,
the status quo will not change unless the alternatives are acceptable
and better than the present, flawed system. There is no point in
introducing something worse.
The Report introduces the concept of
a national council with sub-councils. Its structure is shown diagrammatically
Plainly it is vital to understand what
the Report is recommending for membership of the various bodies.
To start with the Chair and Secretariat, this is not independent
pay review but closely mirrors the infrastructure of such reviews.
It would be less compelling to government and, therefore, less adequate.
It is an advance on where we are. While the committee secretariat
will be OME, it would be expected that the staff side secretariat
would come from the majority union. Places on (or votes in) the
staff side will have to be in proportion to membership numbers.
The next crucial definition is of the
membership covered by the sub-councils. The Bett Committee, with
the dissenting voice of AUT, was unwilling to construct the sub-committees
in terms of current union memberships which it regarded as historical
accident. Also, the employers, Unison and TGWU were vehemently against
having sub-councils. They fought for all functions to be at a single
table. When they failed at the very last in that objective, difficult
discussions ensued on the sub-councils. No final agreement was ever
possible but the Report does include council guidance to the 'Academic
sub-council' membership, the title alone gives too little guidance.
Final disposition is a matter for negotiation.
Guidance to the meaning of 'Academic sub-council' is:
it would include those 'staff normally recruited in national
(or even international labour markets';
eligibility for membership of ILT 'may offer an appropriate
as a start it would include 'teachers, researchers and others
whose primary function is to contribute directly to student
AUT has argued that these definitions plainly cover academic-related
staff. In one respect, this argument has not yet been accepted.
Administrators are said to fall into the area of major legal challenge
on pay differences between scales. Aside from AUT, there was no
support (except perhaps for registrars) for administrators to be
on the academic table.
The issues described lead to significant
problems with job evaluation. The AUT is opposed to job evaluation
as a subjective and inadequate means of measuring job size. An annex
to this commentary (Annex A) deals with its application by Hay Management
Consultants. However, it should be noted that the method is now
uniformly employed by tribunals and courts to assist them in arriving
at decisions on equal pay/equal value. This will remain whatever
AUT's view of these schemes.
Institutions have informed the Bett
Committee that they want to choose a job evaluation scheme individually.
They also wanted to design their own individual scales on the basis
of these schemes. The report recognises that independent institutions
may be free to make such choices but the only consequence would
be a complete disintegration of national arrangements. The AUT has
said it believes this to be the employers' aim. If all employers
agree to a single scheme, even allowing for the problems of such
schemes, a degree of national coherence would remain.
There are two areas of job comparisons
which employers are likely to explore to provide themselves with
defences against the predicted tribunal and court cases. First,
they will employ job evaluation in the overlap between Academic-Related
1 and 2 and the senior clerical and administrative scales. While
it may be possible to refuse to co-operate, the probability is that
a tribunal or court will require that it be presented as evidence
as soon as a case is brought. Second, in order to 'benchmark' the
four per cent of administrative staff on Academic- Related 3 to
6 to the academic scales - an exercise will be needed to construct
the benchmarks. In this latter case, while it could also be required
by a judicial route, it has the advantage of tying these staff completely
to academic pay.
4 Pay levels
The study of pay relativities shows,
at least for academic staff including researchers, the broad scale
of decline demonstrated by AUT and other unions over nearly two
decades. The decline shown is by 30 per cent. The pay study by Hay
Management Consultants, which has been criticised by academic and
related unions, is covered by Annex A, to this commentary. This
is an extensive Annex setting out the problems in detail given the
importance likely to attach to the Hay findings. Basically, it considers
what individuals surveyed are actually doing at the time of survey.
This may produce an evaluation of jobs which change little over
time. However, an overwhelming proportion of academic and related
jobs change frequently and those filling the jobs are expected to
have a range of capacities upon which they and their employer can
call. Those capacities must be sufficiently up-to-date to be called
upon at any time. Yet those capacities receive almost no attention
in the job evaluation methodology employed by Hay.
The outcome of those studies may lead
employers to prefer Hay as a basis for pay offers and government
to prefer it as a basis for funding, not least because it is cheaper.
This will not be acceptable. However, on its own, this disguises
the possible impact of other changes recommended for some groups
which may become more obvious in negotiation.
The other key suggestion is the change
in pay scales. Some of the new base points in suggested scales would
raise salaries very considerably. Assimilation of staff to the scales,
taking account of the value of time spent in the higher education
service and academic and related responsibilities, could also raise
salaries considerably. For this to happen (leaving aside whether
funding will be available), there would have to be a major negotiation
on this issue. Any success in this assimilation would also end the
binary pay system.
The impact on funding of any negotiation
does not appear in Bett as such. Even on a minimalist basis the
cost would be between nine and ten per cent on the overall bill.
Consequently Bett recommends the process be completed by 2002. His
figures are at 1999 levels. They would have to be revised by the
RPI for each year until 1999. On a more satisfactory assimilation
scheme, the figure on the overall HEI bill could be more than doubled.
The 18+ per cent would then be deployed in the 58 per cent of the
overall bill currently used for salaries, i.e. it would raise the
'salary bill' by 31 per cent
There are, from AUT's point of view,
several key goals to optimise this figure. First, the maximum proportion
of academic related would need to be defined in the 'academic' bargaining
unit. Second, any not included would have to be 'benchmarked' i.e.
directly read off to the academic table. Approximately four per
cent of staff who are senior administrators (finance, estates, personnel,
student union, student union managers, etc) would, on the Bett proposal,
be directly pegged to academic salaries as though they were on academic
The Report proposes a difficult arrangement
whereby scales would, for their initial four points, be related
to length of service, followed by additional points reflecting 'relevant
qualifications' including membership of ILT (which might attract
an additional £1000 per annum), additional responsibilities, and
merit and achievement. This would be a considerable extension of
the discretionary scale points system. The report envisages a complete
distinction between staff development appraisal and any assessment
of merit, etc. This will, in any case, be necessary to meet the
terms of Investors in People (IiP), described in the Staff Development
section of this Commentary.
The Report concludes that there should
be a national grading framework for academics. Depending on the
resolution of the issues under paragraph 3.7, this should apply
to almost all academic related staff, including those 'read off'
to academic scales (paragraph 4.5). Equally it is argued by the
Report that guidance is needed at national level for promotion criteria
There will be different assessments
of the extent to which a fair and transparent scheme might work,
or the extent to which it could mirror the current discretionary
scale point system. The Bett Committee was in little doubt from
AUT and NATFHE that, in common with all teachers' organisations,
there would be no support for a performance pay scheme whatever
the government's preference. There was certain to be a strong demand
that priority goes to remedy pay shortfalls experienced by all staff.
The pressure from personnel directors against any automatic scale
movement should not be underestimated. They advanced the case for
unrestrained managerialism with some energy, backed by some VCs
from the former polytechnics.
A little progress has been made in
the report on London area allowances. Bett recommends it be negotiated
in the National Council and that the Higher Education Funding Council
for England should make additional allowance in funding by reviewing
the problem. Some unions have expressed a preference for consolidation
of the allowances into basic pay. This is a trend, reported as extensive
by Income Data Services (IDS) and Labour Research. The UCEA remains
opposed although have not objected to the formulation in the Report.
5 Other conditions
The report proposes that a core of
minimum conditions be negotiated in the National Council where these
should not differentiate between staff. These would cover holidays,
special leave (e.g. parental, maternity), sick pay, access to grievance
procedures, time for trade union duties, arrangements for health
and safety consultation. Once negotiated nationally, they should
be implemented locally within a deadline set by the National Council.
This accords with TUC and long-standing AUT and NATFHE policies.
There are other arrangements recommended
respectively for distinct groups. For example, the National Council
is advised to plan a reduction in working time for manual staffs
over three years to align them with other non-academic staff. Equally,
it is recommended that working time arrangements for all academic
should contain safeguards against overload in order to protect quality,
allowing for some detailed negotiation at local level. It might
be thought that, laudable as each of these recommendations may be,
each would be better considered in the sub-councils covering the
staff in scope of the recommendation. That will inevitably be how
any negotiation would happen
Bett recommends that part-time staff
be treated on an equality principle to pro-rata arrangements. This
accords with policy.
The Committee recommends an end to
the waiver clause in respect of redundancy pay for those on fixed-term
contracts, with entitlement to payment after one year. Redundancy
pay arrangements for academics and non-academics should be aligned
unless differences can be justified. This broadly accords with policy.
The most radical and, potentially,
the most divesting proposal is that pre-1992 universities 're-examine'
their statutes to 'eliminate impediments to good management while
maintaining proper safeguards for academic freedom and individuals'.
This Commentary notes that
there is unlikely to be an objection to core conditions where
the basic rights of different groups of staff should be the
it will be essential to negotiate on distinct interests in
the sub-councils and not in the National Council, strong as
our support may be for the aspirations on unions in the sub-councils.
no deterioration in the workload safeguards in post-1992 institutions
will be acceptable, and unity with NATFHE and EIS-ULA is of
the greatest importance in this regard.
improvements in workload arrangements, which protect quality,
are long overdue, but their form must be compatible with the
professional work ethic of self-management rather than managerialist
pro-rata arrangements for part-time staff should be pursued
further elimination of waiver clauses going beyond the Employment
Relations Act (1999) should be secured. It must be recognised
that aside from welcoming the right to redundancy pay after
one year, the concept of the same redundancy scheme for all
staff may be largely unrealistic. Restructuring costs in academic
environments are relatively costly for good reason. Nobody will
want other staff to do poorly but there should be no diminution
of payments to academic staff to justify higher payments elsewhere,
or reductions in payments to academic staff to align them with
other payments for ideological reasons.
changes to statue to make dismissal easier are extremely unlikely
to be compatible with protection of academic freedom. The call
by personnel directors to end 'elitist' statutes, and the formulation
of the report give no account of how academic freedom might
be protected. It is a change, which will be vehemently resisted,
as the Committee has been told. It cannot be squared with the
UNESCO protocol on this issue (i.e. the authoritative international
6 Staff development
The Bett Report is clear that there
are glaring gaps in staff development. There is no evidence that
it is linked to any appraisal process and levels of investment are
below most other advanced areas of the economy. The compelling evidence
from manual and clerical staffs was that they had almost no development
or prospect of career advancement.
The Report recommends that HEIs go
for Investors in People status. While this will not appeal greatly
to academic and related staff, it is necessary to understand that
it is regarded by manual, clerical, craft and technical staff as
a well-timed and valuable scheme in areas in which they are employed
in the wider economy. The Association will wish to give careful
consideration before appearing to reject something seen as the only
channel to advancement by many unions.
Equally, the Report is clear that HEI
management is not of the highest quality. In the case of the most
senior managers, a firm basis in strategic skills is regarded as
essential but, at present, not in place. At other levels, management
is described as poorly informed and not prepared for their key tasks,
not least the development of other staff.
The call for greater investment in
these areas, and better development resources for all staff, is
enhanced by the recognition that union representatives need time
and funding to develop. Indeed, these resources are also needed
for their representative functions.
7 Scotland, Wales,
and Northern Ireland
While the institutions increasing democracy
in Wales and Northern Ireland are not seen as requiring parallel
machinery, Scotland (and the creation of the Scottish Parliament)
are seen as needing specific arrangements. There would be, under
the Report, a Scottish Committee advising the National Council and
sub-councils. Its remit will not be separate negotiation. Indeed,
the evidence shows that all but one union for UK-wide negotiations
and the Scottish post-1992 employers agree for the first time to
work on a UK basis. The remit will be to consider if any distinct
decision of the Scottish Parliament requires special attention.
Developments elsewhere in the UK could
lead to new arrangements of a similar kind.
8 Clinical academics
A special academic sub-committee will
deal with this group. It will, for pay purposes, follow the decisions
of the doctors' and dentists' pay review body (of course; or no
clinical academics would stay in HE). There are a number of other
issues related to the operation of pay arrangements detailed - the
chapter of the report.
i Recommendation 50 (The Dearing Report) was that
the higher education employers appoint, after consultation with staff
representatives, an independent review committee to report by April 1998
on the framework for determining pay and conditions of service... The
Chairman should be appointed on the nomination of the Government. The
terms of reference for this review were: In the light of the changes in
higher education proposed in the National Committee of Inquiry's report,
and the need to answer the future well-being of higher education, to review
and assess the options, and make recommendation for all staff in higher
education on: The framework for negotiating pay and terms and conditions
of service Whether the pay levels, for all or any group, need adjustments
with a view to achieving: New ways of working as outlined in the national
Committee's report; A link between conditions of service and remuneration;
Arrangements which respect the autonomy and diversity of institutions
and the need of each to answer its own financial well being and the quality
of its provision; Appropriate transitional arrangements.
ii The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS).
The key sector is the University Lecturers' Association (EIS-ULA) which
represents a proportion of the lecturers in the post-1992 sector in Scotland.
It is important to note that a further affiliated union in the Scottish
TUC represents a group of lecturers, the Scottish Further and Higher Education
Association (SFHEA); it has current recognition rights, which it might
reasonably argue should not be disturbed.
iii An arrangement between employers and unions
to pay for this service is envisaged in the Report.
iv The OME provide all the data for pay review bodies
and are accepted by the Government as authoritative in all related matters.
v The TUC will be asked to help create greater agreement
between the unions. It is possible that one further union has a claim
in Scotland, ie SFHEA.
vi For definitions, see paragraph 3.7.
vii This Committee will not have a direct bargaining
role. A great deal still turns on whether it extends to all groups or