Acas has facilitated a series of meetings between UCEA and the trade unions.  At these meetings the trade unions have

expressed their concerns and their desire for a national approach on the handling of job security.  UCEA has explained the

constraints upon its mandate, which is to seek to negotiate a national pay agreement to apply to staff covered by the single

pay spine; it has no mandate on behalf of the HE employers to enter into a national agreement in the area of job security and

the handling of potential redundancies in HEIs.  The management of staffing matters, be it in recruitment, promotion or in the

handling of any staff reductions is a matter for each HEI as an independent employer. 

HEIs are operating in a difficult and uncertain economic environment.  There is guidance available to employers in relation to

handling workforce change in such circumstances through bodies such as Acas.  This paper presents some of the statutory

requirements and also outlines additional points for employers and employee representatives to consider as appropriate.  

These points have been raised in discussions; they are not all shared.

Key publications are the Acas booklet on Handling Redundancy and How to manage your workforce in a recession

(the latter published with CIPD).  Some relevant material from these two publications is presented here, along with comment from

UCEA, the trade unions, and Acas.

A joint Acas and CIPD guidance note[2] is drawn on here to highlight three key points, following which particular perspectives

are added from either UCEA or the trade unions which are the specific view points of those parties.

UCEA notes the following from the Acas / CIPD guidance note as relevant for HEIs’ consideration when dealing with

collective redundancies:

·         Consult with your trade union where one is recognised.  (NB – this will be the case for the majority of UCEA subscribers)

·         Ensure that representatives have paid time off and appropriate facilities in order to meet and communicate with their constituents. 

The legal requirements of a collective redundancy consultation are that the employer provides certain information,


UCEA notes the following from the Acas / CIPD guidance note as relevant for HEIs’ consideration when dealing

with collective redundancies:

·         Seek all possible opportunities for redeployment (including, where necessary, retraining) to other parts of the organisation

·         Retrain employees whose skills are no longer in demand and redeploy employees to other parts of the organisation where possible.

·         Consider ring-fencing vacancies, where this is practicable, to internal applicants otherwise likely to be made redundant

·         Establish a redeployment procedure that ensures staff at risk of redundancy are aware of and can be considered for suitable posts

[1] Redundancy Handling booklet, Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, April 2009

[2] How to manage your workforce in a recession: a joint Acas and CIPD guidance note,, 2009

[3] Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, s188


Digest on job security: a reference document for Higher Education institutions with input

from UCEA and the HE trade unions


costs to the individuals affected.



provide information and to consult. 

·         If there is no trade union, set up a special employee forum or consultative body long enough before the redundancies occur to

it will also help the smooth running of the whole process. 

·         Provide training for representatives (the trade unions will provide this for their representatives) – legally this has to be done, but

of any redundancies. The consultation must take place with a view to reaching an agreement. 

·         Consult representatives about ways to avoid redundancies, reducing the number to be dismissed and mitigating the consequences

·         Recognise the difficult but key role that representatives have to play.

In addition, UCEA suggests consideration is given to:

·         Informing wider stakeholders, including student representatives

workforce planning

·         Engaging in dialogue with local TU representatives to discuss long-term financial sustainability, organisational change and

·         Ensuring that there is a good understanding of a particular institution’s context and challenges.

·         Reasons for the proposals

·         Numbers and descriptions of employees whom it is proposed to dismiss as redundant

·         Total number of employees of that description employed by the employer at the establishment in question

·         Proposed method of selecting the employees who are at risk of dismissal

dismissals are to take effect.[3]

·         Proposed method of carrying out the dismissals, with due regard to any procedure, including the period over which the

In addition, the TUs suggest HEIs consider the following points:

a disproportionate effect on either gender, black and ethnic minority staff, disabled staff, and staff of different ages

·         Conduct equality impact assessments and consult unions to ensure prior consideration on whether the proposals have

by a trade union representative)

·         Carry out individual consultations with those staff affected (ensuring staff are aware they are entitled to be accompanied

may be dismissed.

·         Advise on the proposed method of calculating the amount of any redundancy payments to be made to employees who

The TUs also suggest that information beyond the statutory requirements may be helpful, such as:

·         Statistics on staff turnover for previous years

·         Lists of vacancies on a regular basis

·         Details of the institution’s current financial position

·         Details of the redundancy appeals procedure


·         Think creatively about how to reduce employment costs, such as new ways of working and work reorganisation.

·         Remember that making people redundant and recruiting again later when the market picks up is expensive. 

capability and customer service. 

·         Protect and make the most of the training budget – focus resources on key areas such as improving line management

·         Bear in mind your long-term reputation.

In addition, the TUs suggest HEIs consider the following points:

·         Inform and consult with the trade unions at the earliest opportunity

·         Provide careers advice and training in transferrable skills, where practicable

·         Seek alternative funding, e.g. where funding for a particular project has expired.


on morale and performance.

·         Take advantage of natural wastage and/or offer voluntary redundancy terms – redundancies can have a serious negative impact

·         Cut back recruitment and review your use of temporary staff.

·         Reduce or eliminate overtime working.

·         Consider short-time working, temporary lay-offs or sabbaticals.

·         Plan reward strategies carefully – especially if the scope for pay awards is restricted.

·         Encourage staff to suggest how jobs can be done more efficiently and costs saved. 

In addition, the TUs suggest HEIs consider the following points:

·         Try to make savings in non-staff budgets and to achieve any unavoidable reduction of staff levels by natural wastage

·         Review the use of external contractors, where practicable

·         Consider volunteers for part-time working or job-sharing

transferable experience and skills to enable possible redeployment

·         Consider volunteers for redundancy including, where practicable, from areas of work where other potentially redundant staff possess

potential for retraining

·         Minimise potential redundancies by such means as utilising transferable skills and maximising redeployment options, including the


sets out the legal framework in which employers operate.

·         It is noted that UCEA has produced a Briefing on handling job losses which is available to UCEA members on its website.  The briefing

seen at (insert web link).

·         It is noted that the trade unions have produced model procedures which they would wish to see considered by HEIs.  These can be

·         Other sources of information:

Redundancy Handling booklet, Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, April 2009

Employee communications and consultation, Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, July 2008

How to manage your workforce in a recession,, 2009