TUPE Transfer of UoL-HEE Staff: Branch Wins Concessions from HEE

Below is an email sent to members on 19 July, summarising the achievements of the Branch in its negotiations with HEE.

  1. University Days.

We think most people will agree that this is a big win and we are delighted that those who opt to stay on UoL terms will retain this benefit. We are pleased that HEE listened to the strong representations from unions and staff on this issue. There is no doubt that these representations forced HEE to reconsider. This does show that if HEE can move on something, and if sufficient numbers of staff speak up, then it will move.

  1. Salary Reviews.

This is something of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, there is no guarantee of a pay rise but then no collective bargaining arrangement guarantees this.

On the other, the arrangement is a lot better than the situation as it stood in March. Back then, correspondence we had seen from HEE gave the strong impression that staff remaining on UoL terms would be marooned in a kind of no-man’s-land with no prospect of getting any collective pay rises (if you were at the top of your pay spine). Attempts to get clarification on this issue before consultation started in May seemed to fall on deaf ears.

The first measures letter was an improvement – at least it offered the possibility of a review. We did not think that sufficed and pressed for TU involvement and this was conceded.  At the very least then, salary reviews will not just be a management led exercise. This does not mean that there is no work left to be done on developing this further. There are still questions about how this will work in practice but this is something we can take up post-transfer.

The good news about TU participation is that staff will be able to influence this process. On the whole, with some caveats in mind, we think that this measure is the best that can be achieved by negotiation and we will engage with the forum post-transfer to try and get the best result for staff who stay on UoL terms.

(Please note the above does not apply to those transferring on hybrid terms. These staff are covered by NHS collective bargaining arrangements)

  1. Redundancy policy. 

We had some concerns around the phrasing of the last measures letter on this issue. One reading seem to suggest that only statutory terms would apply with no possibility of exceptions for those staff opting to stay on UoL terms.

We therefore sought further clarifications from management side, which are shared below.

First, we asked management to repeat the position it took on this question during the collective meeting. The reply is below:

“In the meeting we [management] were [asked] the question about prior Volunteering for Redundancy Schemes and that these had drawn on payments at the level described in NHS T&C’s and if that could be confirmed as the likely offer in any future change programmes. 

We explained that as part of our Organisational Change policy we commit to always considering volunteers first in situations where we know that staffing levels need to reduce. 

We also explained that constructing a scheme of that nature was done in partnership with our TU’s and also that any scheme must be tested for both  affordability and that under our obligations for providing assurance and governance around the effective use of public monies the DHSC would need to approve the scheme for use.  As such we explained that giving assurance of what a scheme would look like in advance was not possible.”

We asked whether the measures letter could be read as HEE ruling out in advance anyone on UoL terms going on enhanced redundancy. The paragraph of concern was this one:

“As there are no other provisions within the transferring employee’s terms and conditions that state otherwise, the consequence of the policy being non-contractual is that the entitlement to redundancy payments will be calculated in accordance with the statutory legal entitlements.”

We asked, whether this meant that HEE will only apply statutory terms to this group of staff post-transfer? Did HEE mean to say, that it will rule out UoL staff being offered HEE terms under any circumstances?

The answer is below:

“What it means is that any compulsory redundancy situation for staff remaining on their UoL terms and conditions will be made in line with their contractual entitlement i.e. statutory entitlements.  It does not rule out [unions’ emphasis] potentially enhanced terms for volunteers making a successful application under a Volunteering for Redundancy Scheme – but any such scheme would be subject to the checks and balances outline in point 1 [see above]

We have already outlined our reasons why HEE would not want to apply two sets of terms in the event of future redundancies. Past practice shows that HEE has taken these arguments seriously – it has applied HEE terms across the board. However, management will not offer cast-iron guarantees for the reasons they have stated above.  Nonetheless, we hope the information shared above suffices for people to make an informed choice whether or not to stay or give up UoL terms.

  1. General.

The concessions extracted from HEE have been achieved by the hard grind of tenacious lobbying and negotiating. We don’t think any further concessions will be forthcoming this side of transfer.

Barring some totally unforeseen development, it looks like the TUPE transfer will go ahead on 1 August.

We know that there will still be too many unhappy people in this building come that day. A bruising process will have left plenty of sore feelings among transferring staff. Management will have to work hard to assuage these.

You can, however, be assured that the union will carry on championing the interests of ex-UoL staff post-transfer – every bit as vigorously as it did before transfer