Below is an an update from the ICE forum following the emergency meeting held just before Christmas.

Attached are some answers to the questions submitted prior to the meeting, and below is the relevant section from the minutes which provides some more detail as to the proposals and their implications.

It is clear from the responses that we have had so far from the university that:

  1. many aspects of these proposals remain to be finalised
  2. the hniversity / HEE have not yet explored the option of having the government assume these HMRC liabilities
  3. these plans will have a negative impact on staff pensions
  4. these plans are being rushed (particularly in comparison with the continued delay over the FM services in-housing process) and if carried out by April, will cause massive stress and disruption for staff at the busiest time of the year

The university has asked that further questions / response are submitted by the end of the week.

The IWGB ICE reps plan to respond that until the issues referred to above are resolved, the process should be halted – but please do send us any additional questions or feedback. Bear in mind that we do not necessarily have to adhere to the university’s deadline!

HEE discussion

The ICE Forum considered the request from HEE to transfer the services currently provided by University-employed staff to HEE with effect from 1 April 2019, which required the university to release HEE from its requirement to provide 12-months’ notice to exit the Memorandum of Understanding between the University and HEE.

SC reported that HEE had formally made its request in mid-November 2018.

SC reported that a number of queries raised by Forum members had already been addressed in the confidential Briefing Note that had been circulated prior to the meeting. Any further questions should be submitted, as soon as possible, to ZM for a prompt response.

SC clarified that due diligence work would only begin in advance of the TUPE consultation, which itself had yet to start. At that time, the university would consider a number of matters, including its duty to care to staff affected and the potential implications for their pay, conditions and benefits.

SC clarified that any decision to review London weighting would not affect staff transferred to HEE. It was also reported that transferred staff would no longer be members of the Senate House Branches of UCU/Unison. However, it was understood that there was a trade union structure in place at HEE. SC clarified that staff, once transferred, would be subject to HEE’s established consultation arrangements.

SC reported that, in considering the existing arrangements between the university and HEE, it was estimated that the university would bear a net loss of £150k per year following the transfer of staff.

SC indicated that affected staff could apply for vacancies elsewhere within the university. If successful in their applications, they would remain employed by the university.

SC noted that the board of trustees, at its meeting on 28 November 2018, had agreed to delegate its authority to the vice-chancellor to respond to HEE on behalf of the university.

SC reported that the forum was being asked, at this time, to only provide any further feedback on the request to transfer staff to HEE on 1 April 2019 and that the forum’s feedback would inform the vice-chancellor in his reply to HEE in January 2019.

The forum noted the financial benefits to HEE to complete the staff transfer by

1 April 2019. However, it was suggested that the university should not be held to the timeline proposed by HEE. SC would consider the following relevant matters to inform on the reply from the vice-chancellor to HEE:

It was reported that the work of HEE was at its busiest from January to March and urged that work on the transfer of staff, which included the due diligence work and the TUPE consultation, should take place during the summer months.

TH noted that, in view of the amount of time that the university was taking to carefully consider the impact of bringing back outsourced workers, the university should also adopt a similar approach to this matter and take as much time as it needed.