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Updated: Update on pay award 2023-24 and ongoing industrial relations dispute

17 Mar 2023

Updated on 17 March 2023

University campus

Each year UCEA, the Universities and Colleagues Employer Association, who oversees pay for the whole university sector enter pay negotiations with the Higher Education Trade Unions (TU’s) to agree on the pay award for that year.  

For the 2023-24 pay negotiations, negotiations have been split into two phases:

  • Phase one: Pay negotiations
  • Phase two: Non-pay negotiations e.g. contract types and benefits.

Phase one involved a dispute resolution process, whereby both parties (UCEA and TU’s) came together to try to reach a collective agreement on the pay award for this year. This process was facilitated by Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). No agreement has been reached, but there is a shared understanding by all parties  that the dispute resolution procedure has been exhausted on the subject of pay. 

Pay award details

For the 2023-24 pay award, colleagues will receive a pay uplift which will come into effect in August 2023. Your percentage increase will be dependent on your spinal point on the JNCHES (Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff) pay spine.

Spinal Points Grade  Uplift
3 to 5      Grade 1   8%
6 to 14      Grade 1 to Grade 3     7%
15 to 25      Grade 3 to Grade 5     6%
26 and above      Grade 5 and above      5%

This revised pay structure will ensure:

  • An uplift of 8% for all staff earning up to and including £19,333;
  • An uplift of at least 7% for staff earning up to and including £22,622; 
  • All staff earning between £23,144 - £30,502 will receive an uplift of 6%; and
  • All staff earning £31,411 or more will receive a minimum uplift of 5%

Ahead of this pay uplift, UCEA has also offered an interim pay uplift effective from 1 February 2023. This means that all colleagues will receive an interim 2% uplift of their spinal point or an increase of £1000 (pro-rated) for those in Grade 1 if that is greater, with the remainder of the uplift being paid from 1 August 2023.

For example, for those at Grade 3 receiving an 6% spinal point increase for the 2022/23 pay award, you will receive an interim spinal point increase of 2% (pro-rated), between February and August, then from August, the remaining 4% will be added to your salary.

The JNCHES pay spine has been updated to reflect these interim changes and we anticipate that the new pay spine for August 2023 will be made available in May.

The interim pay uplift will be implemented in your March 2023 salary and backdated to February 2023.

Ongoing Acas talks

The trade unions have now commenced Acas-facilitated talks, as part of phase two (non-pay issues). These negotiations will focus on:

  • A joint commitment to review and hopefully agree a revised/refreshed pay spine. The aims of this review would be to address the pay compression that has developed over recent years.
  • A commitment to time-limited negotiations on contract types, workload, and pay gaps to identify concrete steps which employers are able to commit to.

UCU strike action, which was paused, recommenced on 15 March 2023. UCU are currently re-balloting members to extend the mandate for industrial action beyond April 2023.

We will provide further information as soon as we have an update on the progress of the talks.