Update on Reorganisation of Health and Life Sciences (Project SHAPE)

The University has today brought an end to collective consultation with campus trade unions relating to Project SHAPE.

The University has been engaged in collective consultation with campus trade unions in respect of these proposals since January this year. Over this time, several significant modifications have been made to the proposals as a result of these discussions, notably in respect of the selection criteria, resulting in the reduction of individuals at risk from 47 in the original proposals to 32, and with further enhancements to the voluntary severance scheme on offer to those considered to be at risk of redundancy.

The amended criteria proposed earlier this month, are in keeping with the principles of DORA and this has been confirmed, in writing, by both DORA and Research England. We strongly refute claims made that these redundancy proposals are discriminatory and unlawful.

The University has been fully committed to the process of meaningful consultation, sharing detailed information, data and providing responses to all questions raised. However, collective consultation does not require all parties to reach agreement on a way forward, and despite extensive efforts and commitment to the process, we believe we have now exhausted the possibility of meaningful discussion on the matters we could potentially agree upon, which is our statutory duty in collective consultation.

Strike action by UCU has now begun and will run over three consecutive weeks, ending on Friday, 11 June. While we respect colleagues’ right to participate in industrial action, we believe that prolonging the decision to close collective consultation while this action takes place, would not be the most responsible course of action for our colleagues affected by these plans.

We first notified a number of colleagues that they are at risk of redundancy in January and we do not believe it is responsible to prolong this state of uncertainty any longer.  The trade unions requested that we do not consult with our staff on an individual level while collective consultation was ongoing and, to demonstrate our commitment to seeking agreement, we agreed to this request but we recognise the need to communicate with our colleagues potentially at risk is increasingly pressing.

Everyone considered potentially at risk will be invited to participate in individual consultation meetings. Those colleagues will be provided with information relating to their selection for potential redundancy and they will have the opportunity to put forward any additional information for further consideration before any final decisions are made.  Anyone selected for compulsory redundancy will have an opportunity to appeal this decision through a formal Appeals Process.

Project SHAPE is part of a wider change programme to help create a Health & Life Sciences Faculty that’s fit for 2021 and beyond. There is no doubt these are extremely difficult decisions, but ones we need to make in order for the Faculty to achieve a sustainable footing.