For Staff

How we are tackling pay, job security, equality, workload and wellbeing

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Page last updated: 17 October 2023



Job Security

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Workload and Wellbeing


Pay awards are negotiated at national level by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) on behalf of the employers and the sector trade unions. UCEA  wrote to all member institutions and advised that the 23/24 sector-wide national pay negotiations had concluded. 

The overall pay award for 23/24 provides a pay rise of 5% to 8% for all colleagues - a full breakdown of which can be found on our For Staff website. The implementation of the national 23/24 pay award was phased, with an initial uplift paid in February to provide help to staff dealing with cost-of-living pressures. The remainder of the award was paid from 1 August. Many staff also receive annual incremental pay awards which are around 3%. 


In a letter to USS, employers have signalled their support for the USS Trustee’s proposed outcome, and confirmed their support for the agreement reached earlier this year with the University and College Union, which represents scheme members, to lower contributions, improve pension benefits to the pre-April 2022 level, and explore a series of stability measures for the scheme.

Acknowledging the cost-of-living challenges faced by members, and the significant financial pressures faced by higher education institutions, employers responding to the recent Technical Provisions consultation stressed the importance of reducing contributions to the level required as soon as possible.

Employers have also reaffirmed their commitment to continuing to provide the significant covenant measures, introduced at the last valuation to lower the scheme costs, which the Pensions Regulator has rated as strong support.

The USS Trustee has priced the return to April 2022 benefits at this valuation at a total contribution rate from employers and members of 20.6% of salary, which is significantly lower than the current contribution level of 31.4% and the circa 43% which was the cost of April 2022 benefits at the 2020 valuation. 

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) has launched a consultation with affected employees and their representatives on potential benefit changes.

Job Security

Our Commitment

We will reduce fixed-term contracts and boost job security  

At the University of Leeds, we have pledged to reduce our reliance on fixed-term contracts and ensure consistency in the use of contracts across the University.   

Currently, the way that funding works for our sector has driven the approach we take to employment contracts. We will review how we plan, finance and organise our staffing, looking at how we can adapt and develop our approach in the future to enable the University to be more confident in offering on-going contracts.  

We will achieve this through close collaboration with the three campus trade unions.

Our Progress

We made a commitment to significantly reduce the number of colleagues employed on fixed term contracts with the purpose of improving job security for colleagues. The work done so far has been widely welcomed by staff and our three recognised campus trade unions.  

More than 900 colleagues have been transferred from fixed term to ongoing contracts. A core part of the work has been to change our approach to workforce planning and redeployment to enable the transfer of colleagues to ongoing contracts in a consistent and timely manner. 

Due to the nature of some of our activity, and funding practices across the sector, we will continue to have roles that are time limited, or which have finite funding. In these cases, our commitment is to the individual, identifying follow-on opportunities within the University where they can continue to contribute using their skills and experience. We will not risk reducing our reputation for quality research, and neither will we expect people to accept roles that do not align with their aspirations.

Our aim is to give people opportunities so they can make the right choice for themselves.

Going forward, our approach will be to transfer colleagues to an ongoing contract when they receive a further substantive (greater than six months) contract after they have reached two years’ service.

This takes account of the typical three-year grant funding cycle, meaning those joining the University for their first grant-funded role would not automatically be offered ongoing contracts. They will, however, be transferred if their role is extended by more than six months or they are appointed to a subsequent role of at least six months duration.
Whilst it is unlikely that we will completely end the use of fixed and short-term contracts, because they can, in certain circumstances, still be a useful model of employing people (for example allowing our students to gain valuable work experience by undertaking short term roles), our aim is to significantly reduce our reliance on them.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Our commitment

We will create opportunity and celebrate achievements.

Our staff are our greatest asset. We want to recognise and celebrate this and support them to be the best that they can be. 

Currently we provide a range of services to support professional learning and development. We commit to strengthening this even further to actively support learning and career progression opportunities for all of our staff.

We are reviewing and updating our promotions processes and criteria and strengthening the performance review and feedback process.

We are reviewing our key people processes and activities, including recruitment, promotions and recognition to ensure that they reflect, encourage and celebrate demonstration of our University values and behaviours. We want Leeds to be as diverse and inclusive as possible. We will continue with the measures we have and build on these to make our employee population more diverse.  The appointment of our Deans for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) was a key step, and they, together with the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team and many colleagues across our community, will drive delivery of the University’s EDI strategy.

We are investing in, and strengthening our staff equity networks as well as seeking feedback from and listening to our wider staff community. We are already reviewing our approach to recruitment and considering how and where we advertise roles and engage with potential applicants. We will also simplify the application process to ensure that it supports applicants from all backgrounds.

Our Progress

The University published the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Implementation Plan in October 2023. This plan outlines how we will deliver our EDI strategy, and sets out the systems, infrastructure and support we will be prioritising to help create more equitable outcomes for those who have faced structural and cultural barriers at the University.  

The EDI Plan includes Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) approved by Council and responds to issues flagged in the Employee Engagement Survey. The KPIs are explicitly linked to areas of work and provide an opportunity for further accountability. 

To support the successful delivery of the Strategy and the EDI Plan, the EDI governance structure at University level has been refreshed, and the EDI Committee (EDIC) and the EDI steering group are being established. 

In October 2023 we reaffirmed our clear intent to be an anti-racist institution, and formally launched our participation in Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter, a national recognition scheme that is designed to help dismantle barriers to racial justice in higher education and improve the representation, experiences, progression and success of staff and students from racially minoritised ethnic groups.  

The 2022 Gender, Ethnicity and Disability Pay Gap Report, was published in March 2023. In this Pay Gap Report the University reaffirmed its commitment to addressing pay gaps and set out the measures that will be taken to reduce them, including making bolder use of positive action.  

Workload and wellbeing

Our commitment

We will support a healthy and fulfilled staff community

The health and wellbeing of our whole community needs to be supported and remain at the heart of everything we do.

We already have strong internal networks to provide health and wellbeing support, including staff counselling and psychological support and guidance on homeworking and work/life balance. We will increase awareness of, and access to, all University and community resources.

We are also considering our future ways of working and reviewing how workload impacts on health and wellbeing. We will do this in partnership with colleagues, supporting them to perform at their best and to be healthy and fulfilled.

Our Progress

Work is underway to ensure that the University’s Workload Principles (10 principles which ensure fairness, transparency and open communication around the allocation of work) are implemented consistently for all academic staff.  

The University continues to invest in services that support the health and wellbeing of our staff. This has included recruiting additional members of staff into our Occupational Health Service, providing more access to Staff Counselling appointments and increasing the number of Health and Wellbeing Champions across the organisation. 

We have partnered with organisations including Our Future Health and Purely Balanced to provide opportunities for staff to learn from national health and wellbeing campaigns and advice from subject experts. This has been complemented by input from our own academics with research expertise in areas such as sleep, the menopause and physical activity.  

We continue to develop a suite of training and education workshops and guidance for staff and their managers to support the health and wellbeing of our workforce. This has included the introduction of “Health and Wellbeing for Leaders and Managers” into the ODPL suite of Management Essentials workshops, and the co-creation of “Role-Based Mental Health for Front Line Staff” involving Staff Counselling, Student Counselling, ODPL, Security Services and Residences. 

We have increased access to free sanitary products on campus, expanding the number of locations available to access these products. 

In the Employee Engagement Survey, we asked questions about your health and wellbeing, leadership and management and ways of working, and have committed to listening to you to celebrate what works well and take action where we need to do things better. Action planning on the outputs from the engagement survey is underway and will be regularly communicated. 

We continue to provide access to support and resources to support campaigns including World Sleep Day, World Menopause Day, Mental Health Awareness Week and Stoptober as well as our annual “Window on Wellbeing” week. 


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