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HE employers match or exceed inflation for all staff with final offer

UCEA has concluded this year’s pay negotiations with a final offer* that delivers pay increases of between 3.65% and 1.8% to academic and professional services staff in 146 UK HE institutions. This means that all staff would see their base pay at least keep pace with inflation and those on lower pay points will receive an increase that significantly exceeds inflation**. Pay increases for many will be higher still when pay progression is included; this is the case for three in five academic staff and half of the professional services staff covered by these negotiations who are eligible for additional increases typically worth 3%***. 
 
HE employers feel it has been important to target higher increases to the lower paid who feel the cost of living most keenly. Most notably, the employers’ offer includes the removal of point 2 from the 50 point pay scale, enabling the lowest pay point, if used, to exceed the voluntary living wage of £9 per hour****. 
 
The employers discussed all aspects of the claim and were determined that the offer should also seek to address positively relevant pay-related issues raised by the trade unions in their claim, including proposals for some important sector-level work on gender pay gaps and ethnicity.
 
In meeting the prevailing level of inflation, the offer ensures that the national pay spine has maintained its value in real-terms over the past six negotiating rounds*****.
 
This final offer was very carefully balanced between meeting colleagues’ pay aspirations and our participating HE institutions facing some exceptional financial challenges, including large increases in employer pension contributions, and a raft of uncertainties around funding, student recruitment and Brexit. 
 
Professor Mark E. Smith, Chair of UCEA, said:
 
“This final offer would bring the average sector pay increase for 2019-20 to 3.4%, with more than half the staff covered by the negotiations also eligible for additional progression pay increases. The offer ensures that pay in the sector maintains its value in real-terms for the sixth year running, demonstrating the investment the sector continues to make in its highly-valued employees. I am pleased that a constructive and considered negotiation took place and we very much hope that our colleagues will value this commitment to maintain an attractive total reward package despite the unprecedented challenges facing HE institutions.” 
 
* The full UCEA offer, including the joint work on the non-pay issues, will be available in due course on the UCEA website. The trade unions’ claim is also available on this page. Some elements of the trade unions’ claim are outside of the remit of the JNCHES pay negotiating machinery and UCEA has been clear where it has no role or no mandate from participating employers.
UCEA’s ‘Current pay negotiations’ website page hosts these documents and fuller details of the 2019-20 Pay Negotiations, including an explanation of the challenging context for HE employers:  
 
** CPIH, the Government’s official measure for inflation including the costs of housing, currently stands at 1.8% (the figure for the 12 months to March 2019). Since March 2017 the official measure has been CPIH. Unlike CPI, it takes into account owner-occupiers' housing costs and council tax. The switch from CPI to CPIH was a result of a review of inflation measures by Paul Johnson from the IFS www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39328173
 
*** This offer will mean that there is an average individual increase of 3.4%. Three in five academic staff will, with pay progression added, be eligible to receive increases of 4.8%. 
 
**** The increased ‘voluntary living wage’ of £9 per hour was published by The Living Wage Foundation on 5 November 2018. The final offer means that in HEIs that use the lowest point, employees working a 35-hour week will be on a pay level that exceeds this rate. 
 
*****

Spine point (selected)

2013-14 (£)

2013-14 (real-terms £ 2019)

2019-20 (£)

Real-terms change to 2019-20 (CPIH)

3

14,344

15,804

16,736

6%

30

30,728

33,856

33,797

0%

51

57,031

62,837

62,727

0%

 

Notes
The Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) is the national machinery for negotiating the uplift to the 50 point pay spine. UCEA represents the participating employers (146 have opted to participate this year) and negotiates with the five HE trade unions: EIS, GMB, UCU, UNISON and Unite.
The three scheduled meetings for 2019 took place on Tuesday 26 March, Thursday 11 April and Tuesday 30 April.
 
The Living Wage Foundation figures are important benchmarks, but they fail to recognise and reflect the provision of excellent wider reward packages in HEIs. These packages include valuable pensions provisions, enhanced sickness and maternity pay and above average holiday entitlement. 
 
 
ENDS
For further information: Please contact Andy Fryer, Head of Communications and Membership (a.fryer@ucea.ac.uk) or Marc Whittaker, Communications and Events Manager (m.whittaker@ucea.ac.uk). Call 020 7383 2444.