FAQ Briefing for staff told they are ‘at risk’.

Questions & Answers

GUCU reps have received reports that staff have received emails informing them of their position within the ‘new structures’ proposed by senior management. Some have received emails informing that there are potential ‘matches’ for their role, that these are competitive ‘matches’ or that their roles have been ‘deleted’. 

GUCU wants to first and foremost express our full solidarity with all staff who have received these emails and assure staff that we will be fighting for every job. 

Management cannot act on any process of ‘deleting’ or ‘matching’ roles until they provide a full rationale for the proposed redundancies to trade unions and the period of collective consultation is complete. We have so far not received this rationale from SMT, despite having formally requested it a number of times.

Before this happens, staff are not required to take any action including attending voluntary meetings or submitting the skills match questionnaire. The final deadline for ‘applying’ for any new staff roles is 21st December. 

GUCU is therefore advising all members not to attend the first phase of voluntary individual consultations (1 Oct – 10 Nov) so that we can robustly challenge the rationale and method of this redundancy process as a collective representative body. Since GUCU submitted their Failure To Agree statement, SMT have accepted that collective consultation should come before the individual consultation process. They will continue to hold individual consultations alongside the collective consultation but they now deem these meetings to be voluntary.

If staff wish to respond to email invites they may have received inviting them to ‘voluntary’ individual consultations, they can use the following formulation:

‘Unfortunately, I am unable to attend this meeting. My trade union has advised me that SMT have accepted that collective consultation should happen prior to individual consultation, as is normal practice, and that these individual consultations are now voluntary. In addition, I have received a large number of documents to consult prior to this meeting at very short notice. Due to start of term pressures, I do not have sufficient time to examine these papers or to prepare adequately for such a meeting. I look forward to being in touch after the collective consultations have been completed. 

Best wishes…. ‘

GUCU’s aim is to reduce the redundancy headcount to zero in the collective consultation by challenging the business case and the method used to complete this redundancy process while we are also preparing to engage in industrial action. In the collective consultation, we will be able to extract all the necessary information about this redundancy process that will enable members to have a clear understanding of how to approach the individual consultations after the collective consultations are complete (at the earliest 22 Nov – 17 Dec). 

Further Questions: 

Q. Do I have to attend the individual consultation meeting? What will the consequences be if I miss either phase of the individual consultation?

Staff are not contractually obliged to take part in any meetings, and GUCU are advising staff not to attend voluntary meetings until collective consultation is complete.  Management are legally required to use objective criteria in selection processes, which they have not done, and therefore there are no negative consequences for staff who do not attend voluntary consultation meetings. 

Q. Do I have to attend training associated with the redundancy process?

SMT have said they will carry out training sessions associated with the redundancy process. Again, these are not mandatory to attend but will presumably offer those at risk support in finding new posts in the university. Non-attendance at these training sessions cannot be used against prospective applicants for vacant posts. It is therefore at the discretion of staff members whether they attend these training sessions or not, though GUCU would not advise against attending these sessions.

Q: Is the Skills Match Questionnaire mandatory? Can it be boycotted at the moment? If the form is not anonymous how will it avoid an undue equalities impact?

You are under no contractual obligation to fill in the Skills Match Questionnaire and we would advise you not to submit the questionnaire until the final deadline of the 21st December 2021. This is because GUCU is challenging the rationale for all proposed redundancies and selection criteria in collective consultation. Questions around anonymity and conflict of interests in the recruitment process, and equalities issues with respect to the SMQ itself, will also be raised by GUCU in the collective consultations.

However, we understand that staff need information as soon as possible on what may happen if they do not submit the SMQ by the final deadline. We have been informed that if staff do not submit the SMQ at all, they will likely not be considered for ring-fenced posts that are vacant within the new organisational structure and therefore be more likely to be made redundant. 

Q: Who makes the decisions on whether your skills match the new roles? Will it be the line manager for that role or the change management team or someone else?

The recruiting manager (i.e. the head of department) will be making these decisions.

Q: Is it legal to agree to redundancies with banks ahead of discussion with staff and trade unions? Are they breaking any employment law by doing this?  

GUCU is looking into the legality of SMT having agreed to these redundancies with the banks before consulting with the recognised trade unions on campus.

Q: Will the VSS affect the number of 32 posts earmarked for redundancy?

Theoretically yes, it would reduce the number. But SMT are currently only offering VSS to those at risk rather than opening the scheme to everyone. SMT have said that the VSS will be on worse terms than before. GUCU will be challenging management on these issues. 

Q: Do you think voluntary severance will still be available after you find out whether you have been matched to another role – and what exactly the role is? Rather than having to take it or leave it ahead of finding out what you might be offered, or if you get offered a role that you don’t want – what happens then?

GUCU has been asking for details of the VSS for several months. Management are required to take steps to mitigate redundancies, and to consult with trade unions on the terms of any scheme. Management have yet to produce their proposed scheme, however GUCU will be arguing for the best possible terms for staff and for any proposed scheme to be as widely available as possible and for as long as possible.    

Q. ​​I have a permanent contract but I am currently seconded to a post on a higher grade than my substantive post. How will this affect the ringfenced positions that are available to me? Will I have pay protection for my current post?

The Ring-fencing and Selection Procedure used by SMT states: “In determining the ring-fence, staff acting up or seconded will be treated on the basis of their substantive post.” This means that you would only be eligible for ring-fenced positions a grade above or below your substantive post.
This is something we aim to challenge in the collective consultation process.

The Organisational Change policy which is being used to guide the restructure states: “Pay protection applies to situations which result in staff taking up a post which is one grade lower due to restructure”. This means that GUCU will be arguing that your pay for a seconded position should be protected for the 12-month pay protection period.

Q: When will redundancies take place?

SMT have committed to making no compulsory redundancies until 28 February 2022, but they can send out notice letters to those they want to make redundant before that date.

Q: What happens if your skills match with several roles? Will you be told if you match to other roles? 

GUCU have raised this with management and been told that staff will only be filling in one skills match questionnaire, even if their skills are matched with several roles. GUCU will be challenging this in collective consultation.

Q: What if someone is matched with a role that is lower paid?  

SMT have said they will have a matching process where roles may go one above / below. Following the organisational change policy, current pay based on substantive post should  be protected for 12 months. It is not clear whether contract type and substantive hours will be protected beyond this period. GUCU will be querying this in collective consultation.

Q: I’m on a Fixed Term contract, should I be included in the redundancy process?

If you have worked at Goldsmiths for at least 2 years you have redundancy rights. Depending on the reasons specified in your contract for the use of a fixed term contract, you may be entitled to be involved in the redundancy consultation process.