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University of Hull

No of Staff:  1,990 in academic year 2021/22 (according to HESA)

Their Challenge:

In their 2030 strategy, the University of Hull recognised that a competitive and creative reward offer was critical to becoming an Employer of Choice.

Several external factors, such as the increased cost of living, were putting pressure on their reward offer. This was affecting employee attraction, recruitment, retention and engagement especially for lower paid roles.

The university needed to undertake a pay and grading review exercise in order to review how they were rewarding their employees, especially those in lower pay bands where pay differentials were increasingly being eroded due to Living Wage changes.


The Solution:

The University of Hull, a long-term user of ECC’s sector-leading HERA (Higher Education Role Analysis) scheme, developed options in collaboration with key stakeholders to address the challenges, aligned with strategic objectives.

An operational advisory group was established, comprising relevant operational managers from across the business.  The group’s purpose was to inform formal Trade Union negotiations and the ongoing development and refinement of the agreed option. An intensive period of negotiations resulted in the implementation of the revised pay bands and the placement of existing employees within the revised pay bands.

This financially benefited many employees and resulted in a fairer distribution of salary increases across bands 1 to 5, whilst also taking into account employee length of service and spine point placement within the band.


The Result:

This project was a success and clearly showed the benefits of cross-organisational working, with Trade Union involvement throughout. 

Bands 1 – 5 were re-drawn on the single pay spine. This meant that approximately 25% of employees received a pay increase and those employees who had reached the top of the pay band and had no further incremental progression benefitted from additional annual incremental increases.

Pay differentials between the bands were maintained and future proofed.

There was also a clear improvement in the number of applicants applying for vacancies in bands 1 – 5.  For example, prior to implementing these changes band 4 Administrator vacancies received between approx. 11 and 27 applications but following this newly advertised band 4 Administrator vacancies received between 58 and 130 applications.

There was a positive impact on local Trade Union relations, resulting from the inclusive and collaborative approach taken to developing options and formal negotiations, and the positive financial impact of this work for employees.  There were also wider organisational benefits of this at a time when industrial relations nationally were challenging, as the university was able to continue to positively move forward with a number of strategic priorities.

The success of the project was recognised by the university being runner-up in the ECC 2023 Project of the Year Awards.  There was clear evidence of the impact of the project which aimed to deliver benefits to the greatest number of employees, linked to the University's long-term strategy and with the commitment to a fair solution for all.

‘The range of resources and support available through ECC is really useful. As a member of ECC we regularly make use of the HERA training that is available to us as part of our membership. This really helps us to maintain the integrity of our job evaluation processes and ensures we have appropriate numbers of fully trained and competent role analysts. We have also started to make use of the additional training that is available such as ‘writing job descriptions’.  Colleagues who attended this session were very positive about it and we can already see how this will help us to deliver elements of our People Strategy. Specifically in relation to the project to review the pay bands, we are already seeing the impact of this as we are receiving a greater number of applicants for our vacancies’.


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