It looks from the text of the settlement agreement that has been sent to members who have been made a formal offer as if HR has made most of the changes UCU requested. In some cases (particularly concerning the period during which you cannot take another post at Roehampton), they are less generous than we had asked for.
- Annual Leave
The settlement agreements do not seem to specify individual leave arrangements. Check iTrent immediately and challenge any discrepancies. Be particularly careful if you carried over leave from last leave year in case that has not been included. Check with HR how they are calculating it: the daily amount should be 1/260 x your annual salary (including London Weighting and any responsibility allowances etc). Get this sorted out before you take advice and sign the agreement as no changes will be made after that date.
The settlement agreement asks you to take any outstanding leave before 31st July. You are, of course, free to do so but our advice is that you ensure that you have adequate time left in the next three weeks to: complete any outstanding work, hand over any information you need to transmit (about individual students, programmes etc), take any email addresses you need, particularly concerning external examining, research and knowledge exchange activities etc), sort out and shred papers, delete material from your computer where necessary, return ID and other materials to the University, get advice on the agreement and clear any of your belongings from your office. Do not assume that you will have continuing access after 31st July: your library card, email account etc will probably stop working instantly at midnight.
If you want to make additional payments in order to improve your pension, you must do this before you leave employment. This means that it must come out of your last (taxed) monthly payment so you will need to get in touch with payroll in good time, i.e. as soon as possible. Arrangements for TPS and USS are different: please check the appropriate website for information. If you are concerned about delays, get in touch with HR sooner rather than later. The Director of HR has undertaken to support members of staff with pensions queries.
No settlement agreement is valid unless you get legal advice and provide a certificate from your solicitor. This advice is limited though: it does not cover renegotiating terms but is restricted to explaining to you the implications of what you are signing. If you have any doubts about the terms or want additional clauses, discuss this with HR in advance.
The University has suggested a list of solicitors local to the University. UCU has no view on their suitability and we do not formally recommend firms. There are, however, two firms who do the bulk of UCU’s work: Slater and Gordon (https://www.slatergordon.co.uk/employment-law-solicitors/settlement-agreement/) and Thompsons (https://www.thompsons.law/settlement-agreements-form).
Both are very experienced employment lawyers; Thompsons at least have a dedicated unit, allowing you to work entirely on line and by phone. Solicitors should invoice the university directly (both Thompsons and Slater and Gordon do this) so you do not have to pay in advance. Please check that their fees will be covered but we understand that £500 + VAT should be enough. We have asked the University to confirm that they will pay the fees even if Council decides not to go ahead.
The University has set a very tight deadline for signing. Make sure you state this prominently on your form or when you get in touch with your chosen solicitors and send the draft settlement agreement as soon as possible to facilitate the advice. Thompsons will want a referral from UCU but we can do this very fast once you get in touch with the branch. Point out also that you need them to send their certificate by this deadline too.