Employee Assistance Programme Survey – Have your Say

Employee Assistance Programme Survey – Have your Say

Have you ever used the University’s counselling services and/or its Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

Do you think you might want to use these sorts of services in the future?

The University has recently suspended its provision of in-house counselling to staff who need support in overcoming personal and professional problems that are affecting their well-being.

Instead, they are now exclusively offering the confidential advice service that is run externally via the EAP. This service is delivered by Health Assured, and includes access to their “Wellbeing Portal” and “Health e-Hub Mobile App”.

Tell Us Your Thoughts

We are seeking members’ feedback via a short survey to ensure that you receive high-quality and ethical support in this important area of occupational health.

If you’ve used the University’s counselling services and/or its EAP: let us know your experiences.

If you haven’t: please look at the EAP’s offerings and let us know if you have any thoughts.

Responses will be held securely and confidentially by LUCU committee and will be fed back to senior management in an anonymised way.

Members, please share your thoughts with us by clicking the link in summary of this article in the latest email newsletter.

A Fond Farewell and a Warm Welcome

A Fond Farewell and a Warm Welcome

Since the make-up of our 2023/24 committee was confirmed at our AGM, we have found ourselves bidding a fond farewell to a remarkable advocate while simultaneously welcoming two new faces to the team.

Firstly, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Ellen Nicholls, our tireless Equality Officer. Ellen’s unwavering dedication, passion and hard work have been instrumental in advancing the cause of equality within our university. As Ellen embarks on new adventures at Nottingham Trent, we wish her all success and happiness.

But while sad to lose Ellen, we are delighted to welcome Kerry Featherstone, our new Equality Officer, and Anthony Kevins, our newest committee member. Kerry brings fresh perspectives and a wealth of experience to his role, and we are pleased to see him leading this important work for us. Kerry will be sitting on the EDI Ops Committee (on behalf of all campus unions) for this academic year. Likewise, we are delighted to have Anthony with us.

Kerry and Anthony have written brief introductions below:

Kerry Featherstone, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, LUCU Equality Officer

I am a lecturer in Creative Writing. I’ve been teaching at Loughborough since the early 2000s, and full time since 2009.  My teaching involves giving students creative skills as well as industry knowledge: I am the Programme Lead for the MA in Creative Writing and Writing Industries.  My research ranges from representations of Afghanistan to creative responses to English landscapes.  I have also translated texts from English to French.  I’m on the EDI committee for SSH and served for fifteen years on the board of Apples and Snakes, a poetry organisation that aims to amplify unheard voices. I have ADHD, so am writing this at the last minute.

Anthony Kevins, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, LUCU Committee Member

I’ve been at Loughborough University since September 2019, when I took up a lectureship in Politics and International Studies, and I’ve also worked in Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands. I’m a political scientist by training, and most of my research relies on statistical analysis of survey data, often with a focus on social policy, inequality, and democratic influence. As a co-opted ordinary committee member, I’m looking forward to helping the branch committee get things done and work toward improving the working conditions of all Loughborough employees, members and non-members alike.

Solidarity with Ukraine

Solidarity with Ukraine

Following a motion passed at our AGM, the committee has considered the best way we, as a branch, can support and show solidarity with Ukraine. This has now resulted in a £200 donation of branch funds to the Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal.

The branch committee has also raised a motion for the next UCU East Midlands Regional Committee, calling on them to condemn the unprovoked, unjustified military attack by Russia against Ukraine; to support the provision of any form of aid that Ukraine needs, including military aid, humanitarian aid; to consider tougher political and economic sanctions against Russia; and to discuss cooperation and affiliation with the Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign. The motion also asks the East Midlands Regional Committee to call on UCU to engage with the Ukrainian community in the UK, including Ukrainian academics hosted by British universities, to ensure stronger representation of Ukrainian voices; to state opposition to the UCU Congress motion 5, and for UCU to recall it; to follow the Ukraine Peace Appeal’s call for more informed solidarity, and to call for its support by UCU; to call on UCU to express solidarity with colleagues and students in higher education in Ukraine or displaced by the war, and within the wider Ukrainian diaspora; to call on UCU to support initiatives helping displaced Ukrainian colleagues and students, aiming at the reconstruction of Ukrainian higher education institutions; and, finally, to call on UCU to review and change the governance procedures that resulted in the wording of motion 5 and the contradictory passing of both motion 5 and motion 6 at UCU Congress.

Solidarity with Brighton UCU

Solidarity with Brighton UCU

Kevin Biderman, a UCU rep at Brighton University, joined us on Friday 15 September to talk about the threat of redundancy at his institution and about the actions his members are taking in support both of their jobs and of high-quality student provision at Brighton. A summary of Kevin’s talk is below:

In May, Brighton University proposed 130 redundancies, saying it wanted to save £7.3m – but while also spending £50m on building projects. The University is planning to grow student numbers, potentially causing massive workload issues for the remaining staff.  Hundreds of students have been marching, calling for the VC’s resignation, and they have staged a sit in in the VC’s office. Students at Brighton are joining UCU in asking for zero redundancies, sharing the belief that the planned job cuts are a choice, not a necessity. The VC lost a vote of no confidence, with 94% of staff and students voting against them. The UCU branch held a ballot over 2 weeks, resulting in a 61% turnout and a 90% vote for local strike action in October. UCU has grey-listed Brighton – encouraging members not to apply for jobs there or engage in any collaborative projects. Brighton has deducted 100% of pay for involvement in the MAB and has said it will do the same during the upcoming strike. Brighton UCU has a strike fund which so far has received close to £100k in donations, but it needs more.

What can you do to help colleagues at Brighton UCU?

  1. You can sign the petition in support of zero redundancies at Brighton University, here.
  2. You are encouraged to make supportive posts on social media. 
  3. Brighton UCU would really appreciate further donations to their strike fund, here.

University Town Hall

University Town Hall

LUCU requested more opportunities for members to hear first-hand about major strategic developments at the University and to ask questions of SMT, and we welcome the introduction of Town Halls, led by Professor Chris Linton, the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor. These interactive sessions are designed to enable academic colleagues to learn about how the new University strategy relates to their roles and to feed back.

The first Town Hall took place on 4 September, and it provided a good opportunity for colleagues to provide input into how the University might improve the experience of academic colleagues.  Key issues discussed were:

  • The introduction of an annual staff survey to create a dataset about work experience;
  • A working group to reform management structures in academic schools with the aim of moving away from flat structures;
  • A move toward a single academic job family that will provide greater opportunities for reward and recognition, as well as promotion, for UTs and those on research contracts;
  • An action plan to develop a dedicated programme for inducting international staff, including practical help in settling locally;
  • An action plan to develop a diversity pipeline to encourage more applications from people with protected characteristics and a programme to foster their career development at Loughborough, linked to eliminating pay gaps as much as possible;
  • The work SMT does within UUK and UCEA to further sustainability within the sector by lobbying for a reform to the fees structure.

We strongly encourage members to attend any future Town Halls and ensure that the union voice is fully considered in decisions about the University’s strategic aims.

Town Halls focused on the experience of colleagues in professional services, led by the Chief Operating Officer, Richard Taylor, are also planned. 

Project Expectations Steering Group

Project Expectations Steering Group

The group met on 14 September. A brief update was provided on the 5 work streams that comprise the University Strategy, with discussion covering topics such as the launch of a staff survey to gather feedback on how colleagues view the current reward and recognition system; the inclusion of questions about wellbeing on the 2023-24 PDR in response to staff comments on the staff experience survey; and potential reforms to the role of the Senior Review Groups in PDR, given that ratings have now been removed and PDR is no longer linked to reward.  

Discussion focused on amendments to the PDR form for RTE staff, designed to significantly reduce the time taken to complete the paperwork. We invite members to feed back to LUCU about the merits and demerits of the new form, as it will be further refined for PDR 2024-25.

LUCU News – July

LUCU News – July

In this month’s LUCU newsletter you will find:

Dispute Joint Statement

A LUCU/LU joint statement is in progress and having responded to a first draft we now await amendments and continue to push for this to be finalised soon.  In the meantime, the university has agreed to internally publish an update on the work that has been ongoing on the issues of concern.  We are pleased to share that senior management has agreed to consult locally with LUCU on their response to the USS consultation which is currently in progress.

MAB Deduction Grievances

UCU is supporting branches and members in challenging the pay deductions made for MAB. Their advice is that this process is likely to be a breach of contract claim which would be made via the County/Sheriff Court.  However,the first step would be to go through the internal grievance process.

Should you wish to raise a claim, guidance on the steps to follow and who to contact can be found here

Employee Assistance Programme (EAP): We want to hear from you!

The University has recently chosen to suspend its provision of in-house counselling to staff who need support in overcoming personal and professional problems that are affecting their well-being. Instead, they are offering a confidential advice service that is run externally via the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).  We are seeking UCU members’ feedback on this service to ensure that members are receiving high-quality and ethical support in this important area of occupational health. Responses will be held securely and confidentially by LUCU committee and will be fed back to senior management in an anonymised way. Please share your experiences with us by clicking the link in the email version of this newsletter.

Fighting Fund Claims: National and Local

After discussions with UCU National, we have had confirmation that you are eligible to claim from the National Fighting Fund for 50% MAB deductions for the weekdays where these deductions are applied. We strongly encourage you to make use of both the national and local fighting funds. For many of us this is a challenging time financially, and we want to make sure you know you can claim for strike or MAB days where you have lost wages/had deductions taken. For more information and to make a claim from the national fund, please see here.

The local fund is available to hourly paid staff and staff who are facing immediate financial hardship as a direct result of industrial action e.g. difficulty paying for essentials for themselves or their dependents. The local fund will pay out for the first day of industrial action, and any later days which are not covered by the national fund. To make a claim from our local fund, please contact our treasurer David Wilson.

Our local fund is quite healthy currently so if anyone wishes to donate you can find out how to donate to the national fighting fund, here.

Member News – Council and Senate Elections

Congratulations are due to Professor Matthew Inglis, who has been elected to membership of Council for a period of 3 years from 1 August 2023. Congratulations also to Dr. Giulia Piccolino and Dr. Sarah Parker, who have been elected to Senate, both representing the School of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Vacant Council Seat

We would like to call your attention to another vacancy on University Council for a member of Academic Staff from August 1, 2023, for a 3- year term of office. Because Council is the governing body of the University and is responsible for its strategic direction and overall governance, having positions filled by colleagues who are sympathetic to the union’s aims is important. If you are eligible, please consider standing, and let us know if you put yourself forward so that LUCU can support your bid to represent Academic Staff. 

Report on General Assembly (16 June)

The General Assembly, called by members in response to the University’s policy of pay deductions for participation in the Marking and Assessment Boycott, offered an opportunity to question the Vice-Chancellor.

Questions from the floor covered a wide range, beginning with the University’s decision to timetable the General Assembly for a Friday afternoon and without the possibility of online participation. Though we appreciate the VC’s point that his busy diary left few other scheduling options, we remain concerned at the lack of remote access and believe this represents poor practice with regard to important university-wide meetings.

From this starting-point regarding the GA itself, questions turned to the University’s response to MAB. The Vice-Chancellor was asked among other things about the fairness of applying equivalent deductions when colleagues’ marking loads and other assessment duties differ significantly (he reiterated the point made to us previously that deductions actually applied are at the discretion of Deans); about the loss of good will caused by this policy (he did not deny that there has been damage); and about the incompatibility we perceive between this policy on the one hand and the new University Strategy’s emphasis on valuing staff on the other.

The VC was also asked how the University settled on a figure of 50% pay deductions for participation in MAB. His response was that the number is somewhere in the middle, as regards the sector, with several institutions applying no deductions at all and others at the opposite end of the spectrum deducting 100%. Our position remains that the Loughborough policy is punitive, demoralising, and shows the University more squarely entrenched in the UCEA mainstream than at other times when it has engaged in coalition-building towards progressive positions in industrial disputes.

LUCU is grateful to members who attended the General Assembly and asked questions. It was valuable to be able to raise concerns about University policy directly with the VC.     

Casualisation Update

In our June newsletter we reported on our work with senior management to revise the Casual Employment Charter, which was initially created following our 2018 industrial action.  This work is now complete, and the revised LU Casual Work Principles have been shared on University News (5th July) and are on the HR website.   Deans were consulted prior to completion of the Principles and should now have disseminated these to staff involved in organising casual work contracts.

To ensure casual staff are informed of their rights, work is currently underway to produce a shortened version of the Principles for inclusion with future casual work contracts. Going forward, HR Partners will monitor compliance in schools.  Further, a member of HR has been assigned to review all existing contracts.  Where issues are identified, they will meet with Deans and managers, and where needed will provide training to ensure the casual staff are contracted to the correct grade and have been given the correct information regarding their role and rights. It has been agreed that where grades are found to be incorrect, this will be corrected and the potential for back-pay will be considered on a case by case basis.

We request that any members on casual contracts who have concerns get in touch by emailing ucu@lboro.ac.uk.

Report on our Branch AGM

The branch held a well-attended AGM. We’d like to extend our thanks to all members who took the time to come along and take part in branch democracy. Next year’s committee members (Term of office begins on 1st August for 1 year) were announced as:

Chair: Mary Brewer; Secretary: Marie Hanlon; Treasurer: David Wilson; Equalities Officer: Ellen Nicholls; Health, Safety and Environment Officer: Alec Edworthy; Personal Casework Co-ordinator: Andrew Dix; and Ordinary Committee Member: Marc Gibson.

Several vacancies remain for officers and ordinary committee members, so please get in touch for information if you have any interest in joining the branch committee.

The branch passed a motion in support of Ukraine and are raising a similar motion at the UCU East Midlands Regional Committee. As requested by the motion, the branch committee will discuss signing up to the Ukraine Solidarity Movement at the next committee meeting.

LUCU Committee

MAB Grievances and Legal Claims  

MAB Grievances and Legal Claims  

We have received the following information from head office and want to share it with you if you believe you have suffered unfair pay deductions for participating in the MAB and other ASOS, but are unsure what to do next.

UCU is supporting branches and members in challenging the pay deductions that are being made for MAB. Their advice is that this process is likely to be a breach of contract claim which would be made via the County/Sheriff Court; however the first step would be to go through the internal grievance process.

If you wish to raise a claim, please follow these steps:

  1. Ensure you keep evidence of all of the work you are doing during this period, to demonstrate that you are working at least 100% of the time. Evidence could include: outlook calendar of the work you are doing; departmental timetable of teaching/meeting/classes etc that you are providing; notes from lectures/meetings etc; records of meetings / events; other evidence of administrative / research/ knowledge exchange work you are doing to make up 100% of your time.
  1. On receipt of the pay slip outlining the pay deductions for MAB, contact Payroll if necessary to get clarity on how the pay deduction has been made.  For example, how many days are deducted, what period does the deduction cover, what is the rate of deduction etc.
  1. At this point in the process, if you wish to talk about raising a grievance, please contact Andrew Dix, our Casework Co-ordinator, who will assign a caseworker to help guide you through the rest of this process.
  1. Keep all communication, correspondence and documents from the grievance and appeal processes, together with all your evidence of work done, communication from employer and pay slips outlining deductions.

Should the grievance / appeal not be upheld, the next stage would be to take the claim externally, which we and UCU regional will assist you with.

We will, potentially, be dealing with lots of information, for a lot of members, on this issue and therefore members may not get immediate responses. This will all take some time, so please be patient.

LUCU Committee

LUCU News: June 2023

LUCU News: June 2023

Please read below for updates on LU General Assembly, MAB Support, Dispute Issues (Four Fights), our new Branch Equality Officer, our Congress Motion, Social Sciences Senate Elections & a BAME Staff Research Study.

General Assembly

Following our members’ requests for a General Assembly, we submitted a formal request to the Vice-Chancellor. A special meeting of General Assembly will take place at 3.30pm on Friday 16 June in the Edward Herbert Building 110A. The meeting is in-person only for staff based at Lboro campus. Only colleagues from London will be able to access the meeting online. Room LDN.3.23 has been booked by the University for colleagues in London.

This General Assembly was called for by our members and we urge you to attend. This is your opportunity to voice your views on the university’s response to the Marking and Assessment Boycott.

General Assembly is a collective staff forum established under the University’s Royal Charter. Its role is set out in Statute XV. All University staff are members of the General Assembly, so please encourage non-UCU members to attend as well.  Link to announcement on LU website.

Reminders: MAB support

We remind members that we have a weekly drop-in meeting every Wednesday – 2-3 pm – to support those who are participating in MAB and to answer any questions you may have. Please email the branch if you need the link to join.

The LUCU branch WhatsApp group is also a good source of support. If you haven’t already joined and would like to, you can do so by emailing the branch for a link. You can also speak to your department rep or email ucu@lboro.ac.uk should you need support.

To help the LUCU Committee build a picture of marking activity across campus, we would be grateful if you would email us with any information you have of unqualified markers appointed to cover marking at UG and PGT levels not completed as a result of the MAB, any instances where marks have not been properly moderated by a person qualified to do so, and any mitigations put in place that in your academic opinion are inappropriate.  Please email ucu@lboro.ac.uk providing details of: School, module, and reasons for believing either that the marker is unqualified, the moderation is lacking or undertaken by an unqualified marker, or the mitigation is inappropriate.   

Update on dispute issues: Workload; Casualisation; Equality

Workload: We now have a place on both the Project Enable and Project Expectation steering groups, enabling us to be at the centre of discussions on working practices in the interests of improving our members’ workloads.

Casualisation: We raised the need for revision of the LU Casual Staff Charter, created by the Task & Finish working group following our 2018 action.  Concerns over inconsistent implementation across Schools and sections was also raised with senior management, and agreement for a revision of the principles and a review of existing contracts across campus was reached.  Work on this is already well under way and we will provide an update on the outcomes in our next newsletter.

Equality: Agreement has been reached for union representation on the new EDI Operations board.  Our place on this board will rotate with Unite and Unison and we will work collaboratively towards equity for our members. We are also delighted to have appointed Ellen Nicholls as our Equality Rep – welcome Ellen!

Introducing our new branch Equality Officer

Ellen Nicholls was recently appointed by the Committee to serve out the rest of the 22/23 term as our branch Equality Officer. 

Ellen Nicholls, Careers Network. I am the Academic Success Co-Ordinator for the Student Success Academy (Careers Network) and I have worked at the University since 2021. Following the completion of my PhD research in 2019, I began working in widening participation, harnessing my passion for social justice by working to ensure all students have equal opportunities to succeed while studying at university. My work here at Loughborough centres on providing 1:1 academic success coaching and designing learning initiatives that help to reduce awarding gaps for Black, Asian, and low-household income students, in accordance with access and participation plan targets. As the equality officer for LUCU, it is my ambition to extend this EDI work to our staff, working towards gender and ethnicity pay equity for our members at the University.

2023 Glasgow Congress: LUCU Motion ‘UCU to move from Equality to Equity’

Our branch submitted and spoke to a motion to urge UCU to move toward the principles of Equity and implement use of the term Equity over Equality.  As you can see here, an amendment to the motion was put forward, and following debate Congress voted to remit the motion with an agreement to take it to the LGBTQ+ Conference in Birmingham in November this year. Two members of the LUCU Committee will attend the conference and any other members who wish to join them are very welcome. To register your interest, please email ucu@lboro.ac.uk and we will inform you when registration is live.

You can find the full results of voting on motions here.

Social Sciences Senate Elections

There are currently two vacancies on Senate, from 1st August 2023, for members of academic staff in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). Voting is open to all academic staff in SSH and you should have received an email with a link to vote: we encourage you to use this.

The LUCU Committee is promoting the candidacy of three of our members who are in the running for these positions. Please consider voting for Dr Giulia Piccolino, Dr Sarah Parker and Dr Paul Maddrell (in any order you choose) for your first three preference votes. Their candidate statements are available on the link to vote. If you have not yet voted, please check your email and look for “Subject: Ballot Notice: Senate Election for Academic Members of Staff in SSH”. The ballot is now open and will close on Thursday 22 June.

Call for Participants: Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Staff Research Study

Are you a BAME (Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic) staff member who would like to get involved in a research study?

One of our PhD researchers here at Loughborough University is conducting a study which seeks to examine BAME employees’ lived experiences of racial diversity management policies and practices. This research will seek to understand the impact diversity management practices have on BAME employees as well as the contexts that account for employees’ experiences of such policies/practices.

To find out more about how to get involved, please click here.

LUCU Committee

Important Update on MAB & Deductions

Important Update on MAB & Deductions

MAB and New Methodology for Deductions

Since the university announced that deductions would be imposed for MAB, branch officers have attended multiple meetings with the head of HR, Anne Lamb, the Chief Operating Officer, Richard Taylor, and the VC, Nick Jennings. Following these meetings, an improved formula for deductions has been announced by the university – please see the original communication here that explains the new methodology and the university’s reporting process.

While it was hoped that management would opt for no deductions, once it became clear that deductions would be made, we pressed for a system based on proportionality, that is, to be based on how much work an individual was withholding due to participation in MAB. 

Unfortunately, management would not agree to proportional deductions. However, the new methodology for deductions represents a better position for members: 1) deductions for members who choose to participate in MAB are subject to a cap of 10 days at 35% for not marking; 2) deductions for boycotting assessment related tasks (e.g. exam boards, MC panels, etc.) will also be capped at 10 days.

We advise members to follow HR’s instruction to report their participation in MAB, as this does not necessarily equate to an acceptance of the university’s policy on MAB, but it protects members in terms of following the legal duty to report participation.  We are aware that some members would like to challenge these deductions formally based on proportionality, and the new methodology does not preclude members from mounting an individual legal challenge in the county courts.

Human Resources has now completed the FAQs and you can find the updated version here. If you have further questions, please contact your HR Partner or your Dean. Please copy in ucu@lboro.ac.uk so that we can keep track of questions as they arise.

We remind members that we have a weekly drop-in meeting every Wednesday – 2-3 pm – to support those who are participating in MAB. If you need the link to join, please email ucu@lboro.ac.uk.

Fighting Fund Update

We encourage you to make use of both the national and local fighting funds, as applicable. For many of us this is a challenging time, financially, and we want to make sure you know you can claim for strike days where you have lost wages.

Since the passing of a motion at our EGM the Friday before last, extra financial help is available from the local branch fighting fund for members who are either:

  • Hourly paid, or
  • Are facing immediate financial hardship as a direct result of strike action e.g. difficulty paying for essentials for themselves or their dependants.

The local fund will pay out for the first day of strike action, and any later days which are not covered by the national fund, which is currently capped at 11 days for the period up to 1st May.

It can also be used for MAB deductions, which are currently only covered by the national fund for universities where deductions are at least 50% (Please see Jo Grady Email sent Tuesday).

To make a claim from the local fund, please send the following to our treasurer David Wilson:

Claims for loss of hourly earnings:

  • confirmation from your School or Department of the hours not worked due to striking
  • the number of hours missed and the hourly rate of pay you receive
  • your normal annual earnings (so that we can verify you are paying the correct subscription level and determine which level of payment you are eligible for)

Claims for financial hardship:

  • a list of days on which you have taken action
  • payslips showing total deductions (including those covered by the national fund)
  • your normal annual earnings (so that we can verify you are paying the correct subscription level and determine which level of payment you are eligible for)

Payments can be made up the normal daily maximum, i.e. £50 per day for members earning £30,000 and £75 per day for members earning less than £30,000, gross annually.

Note that due to national UCU rules, claims to the local fund must be made within 3 months of the deductions. We are seeking to change this to 12 months to match the national fighting fund rules.

Donations to the LUCU local fighting fund

It is important that members who are in a financial position to so donate to the to our local fighting fund as soon as possible, as well as promoting the fund to encourage others to donate. Please be as generous as you can. It is especially important that members who will not be impacted by pay deductions for MAB contribute to the fund in order to support those members who will suffer substantial financial detriment as a result of their participation. You can donate via a bank transfer, please contact David Wilson for the details.

LUCU Committee