Covid-19 - Staff Update - proposals to counter financial challenges

Covid-19 - Staff Update - proposals to counter financial challenges

Staff update - May 7 2020

Dear colleagues,

The financial difficulties facing our University forced on us by the pandemic were outlined in last week’s Principal’s Update

Talks have been taking place with campus trade unions to explore the options that may be needed to safeguard our University and protect jobs in the face of our projected income shortfall of £39m.  

We now want to give you more detail about discussions and the processes we will follow as we consult and negotiate with the trade unions.  We are also keen to hear your thoughts on proposals as well as any other suggestions you may have for the Senior Management Team (SMT) that might help address the challenge facing us. 

The following steps have already been taken:

  • A pause on all promotions and contributions - estimated savings £0.5m
  • No Senior Pay Policy increases during 2020/2021 - estimated saving £100k
  • SMT pay cuts for the 2020/21 academic year:
    •  20% for the Principal
    •  10% for other members


Current proposals under consultation with the trade unions to minimise the projected deficit while protecting the University’s capacity to recover from the virus are set out below.

Given the severe impact of Covid-19, we believe these are proportionate. The proposals also ensure that staff members in our lowest grade posts continue to receive an uplift based on any increase in the Accredited Living Wage.

  • National Pay Award

National pay negotiations for 2020/21 have paused. In the current circumstances it is inconceivable that any pay uplift will be affordable for the UK higher education sector.

Nevertheless, should any uplift be agreed the University proposes this would be delayed for up to 11 months - consistent within the terms of national pay bargaining - and with no backdating unless our projected financial position changes. The forecast saving of this proposal is £2.9m

The University will, however, ensure any uplift associated with the Accredited Living Wage - normally announced in November - is implemented. 

  • Incremental Progression

It is proposed that incremental progression will be frozen and not applied in August 2020 until August 2021. The forecast saving of this proposal is £1.7m. 

Incremental progression would then continue with no backdating of payment. For example, a staff member on Grade 6 spinal point 31 who was due to progress to spinal point 32 in August 2020, would progress to spinal point 32 in August 2021.

Should the University’s financial position change the freezing of incremental progression would be reviewed.  

The process being followed

We have started a collective consultation/negotiation process with the campus trade unions which will run for 45 days.

During this time, we will meet regularly with the unions to discuss proposals and consider feedback from representatives and staff.  At the end of the 45-day period we aim to reach a Collective Agreement with the trade unions.  The table below provides detail of the timeline we are working to.





Initial discussion with campus trade unions.



27 April 2020


Formal communication to the campus trade unions.



28 April 2020


First communication to staff



29 April 2020


Commencement of a 45-day consultation/negotiation period:


  • Further meetings with the trade unions
  • Presentation of information to staff
  • Opportunity for staff and trades union to provide feedback.



4 May - 17 June 2020


Meetings of the Partnership and Negotiating Consultative Committee (PNCC)


May 2020

June 2020


End of 45-day consultation/negotiation period/closing date for feedback.  


17 June 2020



Consider feedback - at end of 45-day consultation/negotiation period.

  • All comments / suggestions considered with feedback provided before final decision is taken
  • Meeting of PNCC to finalise agreed position
  • Confirmation of decision and finalisation of Collective Agreement.




Week commencing 22 June 2020 





Providing your feedback/raising any queries you have


You may contact any of us listed below to provide feedback or raise any queries you have. General feedback should be sent to

If you are a member of one of the campus trade unions you may also wish to discuss and feedback comments via your trade union representative. The campus trade unions are also holding drop-in sessions that you may wish to join.

The deadline for feedback is 17 June 2020.

Senior Management:

  • Karl Leydecker, Senior Vice-Principal
  • Debbie Dyker, Acting Director of Operations/Director of People
  • David Beattie, Director of Finance 


  • Nick Edwards, Acting Deputy Director of People
  • Tracey White, Head of Human Resources

Let us stress once again that we deeply regret the position we find ourselves in where we must take steps to protect our University and to protect jobs. 

In the meantime, thank you again for your hard work and ongoing support during this extremely difficult time.  


Best wishes, 

Karl & Debbie          


Professor Karl Leydecker

Senior Vice-Principal


Debbie Dyker

Acting Director of Operations/Director of People

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