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Professional and Administrative Services (PAS) Review: Update

Professional and Administrative Services (PAS) Review: Update

Colleagues

I am writing to update you on the progress made on the Professional and Administrative Services (PAS) review. This note is necessarily detailed and a little lengthy. However, I hope that it will provide you with important information, not least about next steps.

Since I last wrote to you on 25 November 2015, a significant amount of work has been undertaken by workstream leads, HR colleagues and staff representatives.

In December and January, key staff from each workstream led a series of well-attended information sessions - setting out their thinking on the new structures and providing colleagues with the opportunity to ask questions. Wherever the demand was high, we organised additional sessions. 

Workstream leads were grateful for the constructive engagement with these sessions, and for the feedback received. They will continue to consult and listen to colleagues as we implement the new services and structures.

The formal collective consultation process with our recognised trade union, UCU, and representatives from our Staff Forum has also been progressing well. This has taken the form of meetings with an over-arching Consultation Group, and further meetings with satellite consultation groups for each workstream. There have been numerous such meetings over a relatively short period of time, the consultation has been positive and agreement has been reached on a number of key issues. 

By way of example, the arrangements for the next round of voluntary redundancy (VR) were agreed with staff representatives in good time to re-open the VR scheme as promised on 1 December 2015. I will say more about this later. 

We also reached early agreement on advertising a number of key posts across workstreams, internally-only in the first instance, in advance of the main body of recruitment that will now follow. I am pleased to report that pivotal appointments have been made for a number of Support Centre Manager posts (as part of the Teaching and Learning Operations workstream) and to senior posts in Finance including Finance Business Partners (as part of the Finance workstream). This is a positive and practical sign of progress; these appointments will play a key role in establishing the new structures, and I wish those appointed well in their new roles.

Matching

We also reached agreement with staff representatives on a consistent approach to appointing staff to posts in the new structures, including a ‘matching’ process. Matching allows each workstream to determine whether colleagues across the University are already carrying out duties that are, for the most part, the same as proposed roles in the new structures. As a guide, we are considering cases where at least 80% of a colleague’s existing duties match the duties described for a new role. This is an important part of the process as it enables each workstream to reduce the number of staff who might otherwise be ‘at risk’ of redundancy.

We are identifying matches through a combination of local knowledge and direct nominations. If you are unsure about how the matching process operates, you can refer to the formal agreement itself or the FAQs here

Whilst we are confident that line managers and HR are identifying appropriate matches, you are encouraged to review the new structures and job descriptions on the PAS webpages. If you consider you should be matched to a role, please contact the relevant HR Partner (as indicated on the PAS webpages) or the Director of Human Resources using the pas@reading.ac.uk address. 

The PAS webpage is being constantly updated with information about the process and the various workstreams. The information posted includes minutes from the consultation meetings, noting any particular agreements reached, and all the substantive agreements reached via the over-arching Consultation Group. For example, we hope to agree a period of pay protection for any staff who may, in due course, be appointed to a lower-graded role; as soon as this is agreed the full detail will be placed on the PAS webpage. Additionally, the FAQs are regularly updated to reflect agreements reached, progress made and clarifications in response to queries received. 

The webpage is an important source of information for each workstream. I urge you to visit the webpage regularly in order to ensure you remain fully informed. This way, you will not miss information or opportunities within those workstreams in which you are interested.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff representatives from UCU and the Staff Forum who have been called upon to absorb, and respond to, a significant amount of material, often necessarily at short notice. They have carried out these duties on your behalf diligently and constructively, and we are grateful for their ongoing commitment.

I mentioned earlier that we had re-opened the opportunity for voluntary redundancy. There was an initial closing date for requesting quotations of 15 January 2016. Please note that this was not a closing date for the VR opportunity itself. Rather, it was merely a way in which we could manage requests for quotations in an orderly way. As stated previously, the VR offer will not close until such time as colleagues have had sufficient information about the type and numbers of jobs in the new structures in order that informed decisions can be made. Full information about VR can be accessed here.

As things stand, we have received and are considering 48 formal requests for voluntary redundancy. Those colleagues concerned will be informed of the outcome of their request and next steps within the next 7-10 days.

Next steps

We have been working hard to reach the point where we could provide you with substantive detail on the number and types of roles in the new structures, and that moment is rapidly approaching. The majority of the workstreams are close to being able to do this soon. We expect key agreements to be finalised this week in respect of the Executive Support workstream, and also arrangements for Postgraduate Research Administration. Further information regarding new arrangements for Health & Safety and Building Management support will be available shortly. 

So this month, we will write to all relevant staff to confirm:

1. That the post you currently occupy is unaffected by the new arrangements, and you are therefore not ‘at risk’ of redundancy.

2. That you have been offered a ‘match’ to a role in the new structures, and if accepted, you will not be ‘at risk’ of redundancy.

3. That regretfully, neither (1) nor (2) above apply and you are therefore ‘at risk’ of redundancy.

For colleagues in category (3) above, you will then have a choice of either applying for a role in the new structures or taking a voluntary redundancy (on the terms already set out). Further and more detailed information will be sent to you as appropriate at the relevant time. 

It is important to stress that colleagues will be notified of whether they are ‘at risk’ and will be provided with sufficient information about the number and types of jobs in the new structures. The opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy will not close until we are confident that we have reached that point.

As I have stated previously, the following months will be a time of transition and we will all need to be open to doing things differently, and working together constructively. Equally, I remain acutely aware of how difficult a time this has been for all concerned. All the support that has been made available to colleagues through this process remains open, including our 24/7 support line details of which are available here

If you have any questions after reading this update, please send them to pas@reading.ac.uk or you can raise them via your UCU or Staff Forum representatives.

SIR DAVID BELL KCB

VICE-CHANCELLOR

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