Campaigning for fractionalisation – a possible cross sector process

A possible process?

  1. Collect information
    See suggestions. Compare use of HPLs with other local, or similar organisations.  Carry out a staff survey—see HPL-opinion-survey .  Find out HPLs and Main Grade staff views on Hourly Paid employment practices.
  2. Present findings to management
    Summarise the information in a report—present to SMT and Governors – see UCU branch report on Hourly Paid Lecturers and ACE – Report to SMT about casualised staff for example reports.
  3. Campaign
    Raise awareness amongst your members of the issues – see Petition – HPLsAnti-casualisation campaign leaflet and Anti-casualisation campaign poster for examples of FE campaign materials and  arguments to use with your members.
  4. Agitate
    Bring motions to branch meetings calling for fractionalisation—see Motion for Branch – HPL for an example FE motion.
  5. Negotiating meetings
    Make casualisation a regular agenda point in Negotiating Meetings
  6. Calculate Holiday Pay
    See holiday pay summary and how to calculate holiday pay. If holiday pay is NOT itemised, you may be able to win back pay.
  7. Strategise
    At branch meetings, assess the levels of commitment to support HPLs. On this basis, decide what outcomes might be achievable.  Argue for better contractual terms for HPLs or argue the case for fractionalisation: for individuals, block fractionalisation or a revision of employment protocols.
  8. Identify good cases
    Identify groups of staff who
    a) have worked for a number of years
    b) have regular historical employment patterns
    c) are willing to argue their case
    d) have Main Grade comparators in their departments (preferably) who carry out the same or similar duties.
  9. Protocols
    Using the arguments, advocate the principle that there should be regular HR reviews of HPL employment practices. Push for a protocol of fractionalisation after 4yrs’ continuous service.
  10. Get line-manager support
    Approach their line-managers and ask them to put in a formal request to HR for their positions to be fractionalised. Ask them to develop a business case for their staff to be fractionalised.
  11. Request a formal meeting
    If, and when you receive a negative response, request a formal meeting with HR to set out your arguments – see  arguments.
  12. Grievances
    If this goes nowhere, ask the members to raise grievances.
  13. Collective action?
    Discuss with the branch membership what further action they are prepared to take.
  14. Request reasons for less favourable treatment
    If your HPLs are on Zero or Variable Contracts, it may be possible to argue that they’re fixed term rather than permanent. Alternatively, if most of your HPLs are Part-time, you could argue that the Prevention of Less Favourable treatment of part time workers legislation applies.  HPLs therefore would be entitled to request the reasons for less favourable treatment – see Fixed-term Employees Letter to employer and Part-time Employees Letter to employer for template letters.
  15. Employment Tribunal?
    The first port of call would be the appropriate UCU office. Alternatively, a branch rep may be able to represent him/her. See NB below for important information about indemnity for lay officers. The member may have legal support included in their home insurance. The suggestion of taking a case to Employment Tribunal may be enough to persuade the employer to fractionalise the member or compromise in some other respect.

NB:  Lay officers / elected representatives who act on behalf of members at Employment Tribunal are NOT indemnified by UCU.  Obviously it would be vital for lay officers to read the legislation carefully before offering to represent members in this respect.

In redundancy situations

Challenge the replacement of Main Grade Lecturers with HPLs. Ask managers for assurances that all redundancies are genuine and that redundant posts will not be subsequently advertised as HPL positions. If your employer intends to restructure Main Grade Staff onto HPL contracts, this obviously needs to be challenged as possibly unfair, especially if there is no clear and fair rationale for some staff or roles to be selected for casualisation whilst others are not.

Where you suspect that the employer is covertly attempting to dismiss Main Grade Staff in order to substitute HPLs, advise the members against taking voluntary redundancy (where appropriate), as they will not be able to subsequently challenge their dismissal as unfair if they’ve signed a compromise agreement.

Often when there are course closures, Hourly Paid staff lose their work by default. This should be challenged as unfair. They should not be selected for redundancy purely on the basis of their contract type. A fairer system would obviously be some sort of competitive selection which included all relevant staff, regardless of their contract type.

Additional Grievances?

Where possible, it might be an idea to look for additional ‘grievances’ in conjunction with the Hourly Paid issue as a ‘way in’ to arguing for fractionalisation. For example, if a long-standing member on a zero hour contract has been dismissed but not included in a redundancy pool, it may be possible to argue breach of contract and unfair dismissal.  See case study.

NB:  Lay officers / elected representatives who act on behalf of members at Employment Tribunal are NOT indemnified by UCU.  Obviously it would be vital for lay officers to read the legislation carefully before offering to represent members in this respect.

Adult and Community Education

In our experience ACE institutions have very different approaches to the employment of HPLs. Some employ very few whereas others engage 100% of their teaching staff on HPL contracts. This means there may be limited options on how you approach this issue, as using the Less Favourable Treatment of Fixed-term legislation depends on there being a Permanent comparator. If no comparison exists (i.e. all teaching staff are HPLs) you might be able to look at neighbouring boroughs for comparators in making the arguments to managers.

During the information collection stage it is wise to find out how staff feel about fractionalisation, as some may be happy with their hourly paid contracts.

Higher Education

The National Pay Framework Agreement expressly covers hourly paid staff in its provisions, so the employers should be putting them on the spine to uphold that agreement. Local employers frequently ‘forget’ this point and it is our job to remind them:

Pay Spine
  • HE institutions applying this agreement will use the single pay spine  to determine pay rates for all staff, including HPLs but excluding clinical academics, covered by national agreements in force on 31 July 2003. [See HPL negotiating check list.]
  • The values of the pay points in this spine will be reviewed, through the agreed national negotiating machinery, with effect from 1 August each year.

(from p2 in the JNCHES Framework Agreement for the Modernisation of Pay Structures)


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