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THE PROPOSED CHANGES TO STATUTES, ORDINANCES AND PROCEDURES

Not sure what they mean? Not worried about their implications? Not convinced that they affect you?

The proposed changes to statutes, ordinances and procedures will affect ALL staff on a University contract (academic AND academically-related). It is vitally important that staff register their concerns and challenge these proposals before it is too late!

If we don’t engage in this process and challenge it, we will all be adversely affected. The proposals are not simply a case of small tweaks and ‘refreshing’ of existing procedures, but a wholesale transformation of employment procedures (including disciplinary, ill health, grievance, performance management and restructuring procedures), which will result in less protection for staff and limited powers of appeal.

Here are just a few specific examples of what the proposed changes will entail.

Disciplinary procedures 

  • Unclear who decides when a disciplinary action needs to be taken, or with what evidence.
  • Existing panel reviews will be removed, so there will be very limited external oversight.
  • You won’t have the right to bring a companion (e.g. a Union Rep) to an investigative interview (the University may allow you to bring a companion if it helps you to overcome any disability, or any difficulty in understanding English).
  • You won’t have the right to cross-examine witnesses.
  • No protection for academic freedom, no mention that it needs special consideration, and no independent person on any appeals hearing.
  • Some of the actions that would lead to instant dismissal for ‘gross misconduct’ are academic freedom issues.

Performance management 

  • Performance issues will be based on failure to meet undefined criteria. In contrast, current Statutes refer to breaches of acceptable performance, ie. ‘offences’.
  • No mention of the right to legal representation (originally in Statute 29:2(a)).

Restructuring /redundancy 

  • When fewer than 10 staff are affected, one person (eg. a Dean) can oversee the process. Currently, a panel must be set up and UCU consulted when 6 people are affected.

Ill health 

  • No medically qualified person involved on the appeals committee. In the past, appeal hearings at least were chaired by a medically-qualified person. This protection is removed completely.

…and these are just a few examples! Mmmm, ok, one more, for the road:

  • The proposed new procedures ‘may be amended at any time.’ This includes varying procedures for individual cases. There is no security in what happens and how it happens.

Do you think employment law will protect you? 

Sadly, employment law does not dictate that any set of procedures has to be followed. And academic freedom is not mentioned anywhere in UK employment law or ACAS guidelines.

Are you (more) worried now? You should be – and you should also take some action.

 THINGS YOU CAN DO 

Raise your questions and concerns! You can do this in a number of ways.

  • Talk to your line manager – raise your concerns and ask what the changes would mean for you and your team.
  • Ask an HR representative to meet with your department or section to explain the proposals and any changes to current policies – share your concerns and ask questions. The following questions might help to start the discussions:

– Where have the Statutes gone? What will replace them?

– What are the key differences between the old and new procedures? What protections will we lose?

– Can you tell me more about…? [Take your pick from the specific examples listed overleaf!]

  • Raise the issue at all relevant meetings you attend – let’s keep this issue at the top of the agenda so management can’t say staff are not concerned about it.
  • Take part in the official consultation (deadline 3 November). Further information and links to the relevant documents can be found here http://www.reading.ac.uk/charter-reform/. Submit your questions and concerns to erin.murphy@reading.ac.uk, copied to RUCU administrator Anne Ketley anneketley.rucu@gmail.com.
  • Register your concerns with the President of the Council, Mr Christopher Fisher. Council is the University’s executive governing body and is ultimately responsible for managing the University’s estate, finance and staff. Management’s proposals for changes to Statutes have to go to Council on 21 November, so it’s important that Council are aware of the concerns and questions of staff. Send an email to cfisher@penfida.co.uk, copied to RUCU administrator Anne Ketley anneketley.rucu@gmail.com. You could use the following wording:

Dear Mr Fisher, 

I wanted to make you, as President of Council at the University of Reading, aware that I have concerns about the proposed changes to statutes, ordinances and procedures. 

My concerns are that these proposed changes are not simply a case of small tweaks and ‘refreshing’ of existing procedures, but a wholesale transformation of employment procedures that will result in less protection for staff and limited powers of appeal, and therefore adversely affect both academic and academically-related staff. 

I would be grateful if you could take note of these concerns for the meeting of Council on 21 November 2014. 

Yours sincerely 

  • For staff on grade 1-5, in addition to the above, contact your Staff Forum representative. These changes will affect both academic AND academically-related staff, so raise any concerns and questions you have. Details of Staff Forum representatives are here: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/staffportal/news/articles/spsn-586089.aspx

Get involved in the campaign 

  • If you are not a member, join the union and get involved in the campaign: https://join.ucu.org.uk/ 
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest news and campaign actions here on the RUCU blog. If you want to join the campaigns team, please contact our branch administrator: anneketley.rucu@gmail.com
  • Show your support! Complete the forthcoming online survey: details will be circulated soon.

One Comment

  1. AJS says:

    • Obviously they don’t want feedback.

    1. They’ve allowed LESS THAN THREE WEEKS!

    Consultation with all staff on proposed Charter and Ordinances
    16 October – 3 November 2014
    http://www.reading.ac.uk/charter-reform/cr-timetable.aspx

    2. They don’t say HOW to give feedback in the FAQ!

    http://www.reading.ac.uk/charter-reform/cr-faqs.aspx

    3. The VC’s letter online doesn’t even MENTION feedback.

    http://www.reading.ac.uk/charter-reform/cr-vc-letter.aspx

    The only thing I’ve seen that told us this was their email on 16 October:

    “… sending feedback directly to erin.murphy@reading.ac.uk by 3 November 2014″.

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