Over the summer HR informed UCU that management at the University would be having meetings with staff where there were concerns over performance at work. Concerns relate to teaching and/or research. Teaching concerns relate to staff with scores above a threshold figure for SET data, whilst research concerns largely relate to staff not included in REF returns.
HR informed UCU officers that all relevant staff would be invited to a meeting with their Head of School (or equivalent) and the issues would be discussed, with a view to identifying appropriate targets and support.
UCU officers made clear that we believe that existing PDPR processes, together with established schedules, are the appropriate way to deal with these issues. An additional process is unnecessary, and threatens to undermine the legitimacy of PDPR.
The University has however decided to proceed with its plan.
As the new academic year begins it is likely that these meetings will be scheduled in the near future. Some may have already taken place.
Advice to members called to meetings
If you are called to one of these meetings do not be alarmed. We are not complacent but we have been assured the meetings are intended to be supportive. The meetings should be informal and are not part of any formal procedure. For this reason, we do not believe it is necessary to have union representation at the meeting. We recommend members provide a full explanation about why they believe the situation has arisen, including identifying issues of excessive workloads or inadequate resources/support as appropriate. UCU does not believe it should be necessary to revise objectives set earlier in the year as part of the PDPR process, and would see any such action as the exception rather than the rule. The meeting however may be an opportunity to address issues such as workload distribution, or the need for support not previously provided. Members are urged to consider any new objectives with care, and to not agree to objectives that might be considered in any way unreasonable – if in doubt, consult the union for advice.
As indicated, UCU does not believe it is necessary for the union to be present at meetings, and we expect meetings to be informal, constructive and supportive. If any member is concerned that this description of the meetings does not reflect their experience then please contact the union office for advice. In particular members are urged to contact the union office where there is any pressure to accept unreasonable objectives or where the tenor of the meeting might be considered intimidating.
Union officers have raised considerable concerns about this process. We believe it is unnecessary and has the potential to cause significant, and avoidable, distress. If you have any anxieties about this process, or wish to report a meeting that you do not feel has been handled appropriately, then please contact the union office. The union is available to provide advice, and if necessary, to offer officer support. UCU also has meetings scheduled with the university to monitor this process, and the experiences and observations of members will help us raise these issues with management.
If you need to contact the union then:
Phone – 0115 951 4976 (Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri mornings)
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
All information provided is treated confidentially.