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The Cambridge Implementation of the Single Spine: Notice

23 April 2007

The Council and the General Board publish below information on the implementation of the new pay and grading structure in Cambridge.


1. National negotiations over several years between the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) and the trades unions culminated, in 2004, in the signing of a Framework Agreement to facilitate pay reform for non-clinical staff in higher education institutions, including the introduction of a single pay spine. Against this background, the Council and the General Board published a Joint Consultative Report on new arrangements for pay and grading in July 2004 (Reporter, 2003-04, p. 971).

2. These proposals were developed in partnership working with the trades unions locally in the light of comments on the Report, including the remarks made at a Discussion on 12 October 2004 (Reporter, 2004-05, p. 84). The Council and the General Board submitted their Second Joint Report in June 2005 (Reporter, 2004-05, p. 745) setting out proposals for the implementation of the new arrangements, and for the assimilation of staff to the single spine and to the new common grade structure from 1 January 2006. The Report was discussed in the Regent House on 21 June 2005 (Reporter, 2004-05, p. 940). Following a ballot held in November 2005 on the Graces associated with the proposals in the Report, work to assimilate staff to the single spine and the new grade structure began in earnest.

3. As described in the Second Report, assimilation has involved matching roles at institutional level, moderation at School (or equivalent) level and moderation at University level. Some assimilation outcomes are also subject to processes of review and appeal which, on completion, will affect some of the data presented in this Notice. These will be picked up in the equal pay audit/impact assessments (paragraphs 15 and 21).

Management of the project

4. At its meeting on 29 November 2004, the Council received a paper from the Personnel Committee on how the management of the pay and grading project was being taken forward and at its meeting on 28 February 2005 a further report including updated projections of costs. The Personnel Committee has had oversight of the project throughout, receiving as a standing item of business at each of its 28 meetings since January 2004 a detailed progress report. Regular reports on the pay and grading project have also been made to the CHRIS Project Board and to the Information Systems Group because of the relevance of the projects to each other.1 Because of the time constraints, oversight has had to be largely retrospective; however, the Personnel Committee is satisfied that the implementation has been undertaken carefully and rigorously.

5. There have also been regular meetings with the local trades unions in the Partnership Working Group (35 meetings to 31 December 2006), ad hoc meetings with individual unions, and sub-group meetings to consider other matters arising from the Framework Agreement including harmonization and career development.


6. Communication with staff has included a series of 'road shows' in April 2005, publication of Staff News (published 12 times up to December 2006), and through information on the Personnel Division website (http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/personnel/reward/).

7. A pattern of notifying Schools and institutions of both outcomes and roles undergoing further consideration under University level moderation, in advance of notification to staff, was established. Notifications of outcomes were sent to individuals in advance of payslips together with information about the assimilation process and, where appropriate, the provisions for protecting pay levels for those individuals who were red-circled, and the processes for requesting a review of the outcome of the assimilation process and subsequent appeal.

The Implementation

8. The analysis of the outcome of the assimilation is based upon the position at December 2006.

Assimilation to the new grades and single salary spine

9. Over 8,000 outcomes have been identified and notified to staff holding appointments during 2006. As of 29 March 2007, 65 outcomes remain in University moderation or have known issues being investigated. These outcomes are subject to ongoing dialogue with School and equivalent level moderation panels. A total of 145 academic-related and 376 assistant staff have requested a review of the outcome for their role following the assimilation exercise. These cases usually require individual consideration and this process had not been completed at year end. Remaining staff on the University payroll are outside the scope of the exercise (e.g. staff paid on NHS scales).


10. Within the figure of c. 8,000 assimilated outcomes, 7,024 were continuous appointments at December 2006 which can be identified both before and after the assimilation date of 1 January 2006. Using this population, Table 1 (p. 615) gives the cost of the assimilation and a breakdown by Schools and Council and General Board institutions.2 The overall cost of £6.23m is consistent with the estimates provided in the Second Report and to the Council in February 2005.

11. In interpreting Table 1, it is important to note that the costs of assimilating grade 12 academic staff (Professors) reflect two elements: (a) assimilation by 'move across' to the single spine point equal to or immediately above their current salary, followed by (b) adjustment in line with the criteria given in Annex 7 of the Second Joint Report to accomplish the shift of Professorial pay from four contribution points under the old pay arrangements to four contribution bands on the new single spine. The average cost of step (a) was 1.6%, and of step (b), 3.2%. Step (b) replaced the 2005 Professorial Contribution Exercise and was overseen by the Vice-Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Professorial Pay.3 In Table 1 and in Tables 2-3 (pp. 615-16), costs excluding step (b) appear in brackets.

12. The average percentage cost of assimilation across the University was 3.1 %. With the exception of the School of Arts and Humanities (SAH), a feature of the assimilation is the clustering of costs around the mean.

Assimilation patterns by School and Council and General Board institutions

13. A summary of the results of assimilation patterns at School, Council, and General Board levels appears in Tables 2-4.

14. Table 2 develops Table 1 by splitting the information by staff groups - academic and non-academic; contract research staff are included in the academic category.

15. Table 3 gives salary uplifts by School and gender. On completion of the appeals, an equal pay audit will be undertaken, as indicated in the Second Report.

16. Table 4 (p. 616) records the pattern of red- and green-circling among non-academic staff, and by Schools and Council and General Board institutions, after moderation but before completion of reviews and appeals. Paragraph 3.12 of the Second Joint Report estimated, on the basis of the trialling and modelling, that approximately 7% of staff would be red-circled4 and perhaps twice that percentage green-circled. The overall percentages are very close to these predictions although, as Table 4 shows, there are considerable variations between institutions. The Second Joint Report (paragraph 4.10) provides general guidance on approaches which institutions can adopt to resolve red-circling.

Assimilation patterns by role

(a) University-wide patterns

17. Figure 1 (p. 619) plots the percentage uplift in salary accruing to each of the assimilated posts. The uplifts have been ranked on the horizontal axis by size (left smallest, right largest). Approximately 80% of posts received increases in the range 0%-3%, co-incidental with the 3% steps on the Cambridge single spine. Roughly 20% of posts received higher increases in the range 3-24%.

18. Figure 2 (p. 620) uses a box and whisker chart to show the distribution of salary increases in percentage terms experienced by staff groups according to their pre-assimilation job titles. The shaded box spans the range of uplifts experienced by 50% of the staff in each group, while the whiskers span the range of the assimilated staff in that category. For Professors, the lower box and whisker plot shows the distribution excluding step (b) in paragraph 11, while the upper plot shows the distribution including step (b). The convention is also followed in Figures 3-11 (pp. 621-30).

(b) Institutional patterns

19. In order to analyze the patterns shown in Figure 2 at the School or equivalent level, it has been necessary to group the staff categories in Figure 2 to produce meaningful sample sizes at this finer institutional level. The groupings used are listed in Table 5 (p. 617).

20. Figures 3-10 repeat the analysis of Figure 2 for the Schools and Council and General Board institutions. Even with grouped categories of staff, sample sizes in some categories remain small. But, subject to this caveat, the greatest variability in percentage salary uplift across institutions is seen in the following groups: other academic posts; directors/senior managers; manual staff.

Pay and gender

21. Figures 11A and 11B show the spread of salary increases experienced by post and gender at University level. The University is alert to its responsibilities under current equal pay and discrimination legislation. Work on checking statistically for systematic differences in the average salary by gender has begun, and will be a critical element in future equal pay audits and impact assessments.


22. The Cambridge implementation of the single spine has involved immense effort, commitment, and some considerable stress on the part of many staff across the University, and the Council and the General Board wish to express their great thanks to all who have been involved. The Council and the General Board believe that the new spine and the new grade structure, along with the introduction of market pay, provide a robust and flexible pay model which will meet the recruitment and retention needs of the University when attracting the high quality staff the University requires to maintain its international pre-eminence in teaching, research, and contributions to society.

23. As indicated in the Second Report a number of other matters besides implementing the single spine require consideration arising out of the Framework Agreement, including:

Work on these is in progress and will be reported to the competent authorities in due course.



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Cambridge University Reporter 02 May 2007
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