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July 26th, 2017:

UCU advice and support related to appraisal process

All staff should have completed an appraisal by 31st May unless on probation.

UCU understands that appraisal scores for staff at levels 4-6 will be moderated at an Academic Unit/Directorate level followed by ratification of these scores at Faculty/Executive Directorate level.

The University previously agreed with UCU that only scores of 4/5 would be subject to moderation.  (See https://intranet.soton.ac.uk/sites/hr/appraisal/SitePages/Home.aspx).  This assurance about the limited scope of moderation was key to the University of Southampton appraisal system being agreed by national UCU.  This feature was highlighted to our members when we balloted them about the Pay and Reward arrangements.  These arrangements, including the appraisal scheme, were endorsed by 94.5% of UCU members at University of Southampton in September 2014.

We are aware that scores of 1-3 are also being moderated. UCU has not been consulted about this extended moderation process or Terms of Reference, and we have raised this with senior management, along with our other broader concerns about how appraisal has been conducted this year.  It appears that University of Southampton could be breaching the collective agreement with UCU on pay and reward, which includes arrangements for appraisal.

We are aware that some UCU members have been given a provisional appraisal score and have been required to attend a meeting with HR and Line Management, before appraisal scores have been moderated or ratified. If you are asked to attend such a meeting, please contact UCU for support. We advise you to request to be accompanied by a colleague or UCU representative into this meeting. You are entitled to ask the reason(s) for a meeting request and who will be present.

If you are asked to attend a ‘protected conversation/meeting’ you may be informed of capability, disciplinary or asked to consider leaving your job.  We advise you to request to be accompanied by a colleague or UCU caseworker into such a meeting and you are entitled to ask the reason(s) for the meeting and who will be present. You do not have to agree to settlement offers made to you in a protected conversation/meeting and we advise members to carefully consider any offers before responding.

University of Southampton has a Dignity at Work Policy statement which begins by stating, “The University of Southampton is committed to supporting, developing and promoting equality and diversity in all of its practices and activities. We aim to establish an inclusive culture, free from discrimination and based on the values of dignity, courtesy and respect. We recognise the right of every person to be treated in accordance with these values.”  We also note that the appraisal scheme approved by UCU members includes a commitment that “All appraisals should be carried out in a fair and equitable way, with due consideration paid to an individual in relation to the process and outcomes of appraisal.”  We are concerned that the practice of appraisal moderation outside of agreed processes, and the use of moderated scores to coerce staff into asking staff to consider leaving their job, appears to breach the commitments made by University of Southampton in these policies.

UCU is currently working with a number of members on issues related to appraisal. If you have concerns or comments regarding the appraisal process please contact us – you can do this via ucu@soton.ac.uk. (If you would prefer not to use university email please telephone the office on 023 8059 2364 and Amanda can provide alternative contact details.)