CORONAVIRUS HIGHER EDUCATION: Guidance for Branch Negotiators

Scottish HE Branch Negotiators’ Guidance / Summary of HE Committee Meeting – 31/03/20


  1. No detriment is the norm for the directly employed membership in Scottish HE. Branches should continue to monitor this closely.


  1. There is no clarity as yet at a UK government or Scottish government level regarding HE’s eligibility for the 80% pay / Job Retention Scheme. UNISON is chasing clarity on this at a UK level, and institutions are taking their own legal advice. If members are furloughed in line with the scheme, early agreement must be struck on full payment of the remaining 20% & no detriment to pension contributions. Furlough proposals should be based on a thought out evaluation of the whole workforce, not lazy selective targeting of e.g. caterers


  1. No detriment should also apply to contractor staff – QMU have shown it’s possible to commit to no detriment & enforce this through existing contractual arrangements. Push the University to take responsibility for consistent measures across the campus workforce, let me know if there’s a need to name & shame higher up.



  1. On annual leave, if this matter is still a matter of negotiation, universities like Aberdeen, St Andrews, QMU, GSA are continuing to allow usual carry over arrangements. Aberdeen & others are allowing re-booking of A/L in the event of cancelled travel arrangements etc. While pushing for fairness & the sector best in this area, branches should still encourage members to use their A/L to protect health & get time away from the home workplace. If a much better sectoral agreement is negotiated in Scottish FE, that will be circulated as a new standard.

Employers should at the very least follow this ACAS guidance:


  1. A number of institutions, starting with Strathclyde, have awarded extra days of rest to staff in recognition of the upheaval & stress of recent weeks – you should approach your employer about matching that gesture, with public holiday allowances for essential staff still attending during that time.


  1. Keep chasing your employer for a census of the skeleton workforce on campus, its shift patterns, instructions on physical distancing, use of PPE etc. Aberdeen has their cleaners using high-grade masks & gloves to mitigate risk, & took proactive measures to source PPE early in the crisis. That should be the standard other employers work towards.