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Report of the Council and the General Board on new arrangements for determining the initial place on the scale of stipends on appointment in respect of non-clinical academic and academic-related officers and unestablished staff: Notice.

12 November 2001

The Council have considered the remarks made at the Discussion of this Report on 10 July 2001 (Reporter, 2000-01, p. 963). They have consulted the General Board and have agreed to comment as follows.

Dr S. J. Cowley expressed concern that a non-academic could have the final say on an academic stipend by blocking a referral to the Chairman of the Personnel Committee. Dr J. P. Dougherty in his remarks also touched on this matter. The intention behind the proposals in the Report is to introduce arrangements for determining pay on appointment that are less mechanistic, more flexible, and that can be operated more expeditiously than the present arrangements. The authority for determining the stipend of University officers on appointment under the proposed new arrangements remains ultimately with the competent authority. Judgements exercised by academic and non-academic officers are subject to that authority and all University officers involved in the process remain accountable to that authority. The Council and the Board do not accept that Dr Cowley's assertion that recommendations will be 'blocked' by officers of the Unified Administrative Service will be borne out in practice. It is, however, important that in this area, as in others, officers, who are accountable to the central bodies should be trusted to exercise their judgement in an informed and objective manner. Should a dispute arise in relation to the determination of an officer's stipend that became incapable of resolution, it would, as under the present arrangements, be referred to the Personnel Committee, and, if necessary, to either the Council or the General Board, as the case may be.

Dr Cowley was also concerned at taking account of 'live offers' in determining stipend on appointment. Under the present arrangements it is possible for an individual to be awarded such number of additional increments above his or her age-point on the relevant scale, within the range of the scale, which would have the effect of matching a rival offer or current salary. The taking account of live offers in the context of the University's age-related policy of determining stipend on appointment has caused and continues to cause problems. Inequities are created between the stipends of newly appointed staff who have been awarded additional increments to match their current salary or a rival offer, and the stipends of existing staff; little account of comparative experience is taken in this process.

With regard to Dr Cowley's point about the low pay of most College-funded Research Fellows and the effect of the new policy on the pay of those who are appointed to University offices, the Council and the Board point out that the new policy should allow for a more flexible approach to the determination of pay on appointment. Present salary is just one consideration which may be taken into account under the proposed new policy; as the Report indicates, account may also be taken of the relevant experience of the appointee, the relative salaries of staff working in the same area, and of any other relevant factors.

Dr Cowley drew attention to the likely effect of abolishing the age-related policy on average pay according to gender. The Council and the Board emphasize the importance they attach to consistency, fairness, and good judgement in the application of the new policy to all appointments. They will ensure that the proposed new arrangements, if approved, are monitored with regard to the requirements of the University's equal opportunity policy.

Dr Cowley also drew attention to the possibility that the new policy could in some cases result in the salary of a postdoctoral appointee being higher than the recruiting University officer. Such anomalies arise occasionally under the present arrangements. The flexibility of the new policy, however, will allow for such anomalies to be mitigated. In this context, Dr Cowley referred to the age-related scales of the Research Councils. In fact, the Research Councils' policy is to base awards on nationally agreed scales, which are not age-linked.

The Council and the Board do not accept Dr Cowley's imputation that there will be a 'slavish adherence' to previous or offered salaries. Unlike the existing arrangements, present salary is just one of several factors which should be taken into account when deciding on the appropriate salary for a new appointee.

With regard to the remarks made by Dr Evans that are pertinent to this Report, the Council and the Board reiterate that their intention is to replace the current policy with a policy that is less mechanistic and more flexible in its application. However, it is important to realize that the new policy will require careful judgement on the part of those involved in the process and that a balanced consideration of the factors outlined in the Report will need to be taken into account when determining initial stipend. Arrangements that are more flexible than the present ones are vital if the University is to compete effectively in its efforts to recruit high quality staff.

The Council and the Board take the opportunity afforded by this Notice to clarify the point raised by Dr Dougherty concerning the designation 'Personnel Consultant', to which he refers as 'a new office unknown to Ordinances'. Personnel Consultants are in fact Assistant Registraries in the Personnel Division whose duties involve the provision of advice and guidance in personnel matters to the Schools and other institutions of the University. The term Personnel Consultant, which was referred to in the Annual Reports of both the Council and the General Board for 1999-2000, has been employed in order to indicate more clearly than the title Assistant Registrary the specific nature of the role of these officers all of whom hold the office of Assistant Registrary in the Unified Administrative Service.

With the concurrence of the General Board, the Council are submitting a Grace (Grace 5, p. 255) to the Regent House for the approval of the recommendations of the Joint Report.

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Cambridge University Reporter 14 November 2001
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