Students Staff
University of Essex

July 2, 2020

Armed Forces Week

Filed under: Developing Excellence — Tags: — Mohammed Alam @ 12:56 pm

My job as the Financial Reporting Accountant in Financial Planning and Data Insight involves compiling annual financial statements, generating financial reports, and providing advice on the finance system.

In the Army Reserve, my role is Communications Systems Operator with 36 (Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron Royal Signals. Since joining in February 2019, I have been developing the skills to fulfill this role, these include setting up radio detachments and using the Bowman radios, as well as basic soldiering skills.

I have really enjoyed my time building up these skills, with every course being different and allowing me to meet plenty of fantastic people from a wide variety of backgrounds, all of who have the same drive and determination to succeed in common.

The skills that I have learned in both of my careers have been able to complement each other, including time management, teamwork, and communication. Also, specific skills such as using IT systems and coding have been transferable.

One of my highlights with the Reserves so far has been completing my Phase 1 course, which was spread out over four weekends and two weeks and involved learning all the basic soldiering skills, such as fieldcraft, using a rifle and navigation. Another highlight was being able to march through London in January as part of the Privilege Parade. This celebrated my Regiment earning privileged status, allowing them to march into the city “with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed”.

Last month, I took part in part in the 100 for 100 challenge to raise money for the Royal Signals Charity. This involves running 100kms in the month of June to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the Royal Signals. I took this on as a personal challenge and managed to run 476kms, coming first in terms of distance in the regiment, although definitely not first nationally. This is also assisting in my training for the London Marathon, which has now been delayed to October, which I am running to raise money for Help for Heroes), so far, I have raised just over £400 of my £1,000 target.

The University has been brilliant in supporting me in taking part in the Reserves, by allowing me to have additional paid leave to attend my courses and being flexible with fitting my work around any of my obligations.

If you are a Reservist, veteran or part of a military family, we’d love to hear from you.

Ian Haw, Financial Reporting Accountant in Financial Planning and Data Insight



Recording COVID19 related absences

Filed under: Advice & Support — Tags: , — Mohammed Alam @ 12:54 pm

As you are aware, the University is preparing for a number of different scenarios in relation to the current COVID19 situation. This means that we are changing the way any absences related to COVID19 are recorded through iTrent sickness recording.  We are also reminding staff of the need to ensure that their preferred contact number and emergency contact details information is updated on HR Organiser.  Holding this information is a reasonable request and the data will only be visible to line managers and People and Culture (HR) members of staff.  We would be grateful if you could also encourage your team member(s) to do the same.

Preferred contact number and emergency contact details

HR Organiser has the provision for members of staff to record their preferred contact information as well as adding a named individual and contact information as an emergency contact.  This information is only visible to staff within People and Culture and the individual’s Line Manager.  The information is held securely on the University HR system, please can we take this opportunity to remind you to complete the form on HR Organiser and ensure your record is up to date.

To access the page please choose the personal tab at the top of the home page on HR Organiser.

Recording instances of COVID19 related absence

The University is clear in its policy of how staff will be paid when absent from work in a COVID19 related absence.  However, in addition to paying staff we do need to understand how many of our staff may be affected and what we can further do to support affected staff or areas. We have therefore created a separate absence reporting options within iTrent and via People Manager.  COVID19 related absences will be treated as sickness absence but will not impact an individual’s entitlement to sick pay, the entitlement will not be impacted by length of service or any other current term and conditions around entitlement to pay.  Further support for staff is now available on our webpages which we will be working on keeping updated as more news is available.

The categories for recording are:

  • Dependant in self-isolation or school closure
  • Self-isolation on medical advice – contact with confirmed case – no symptoms
  • Self-isolation- return from Category 1 Country
  • Self-isolation- return from Category 2 Country – with symptoms
  • Self-isolation on medical advice with symptoms
  • Covid-19 diagnosed

These can be accessed via People   and recording of ‘Other absence’, attached is a guide to help you when processing this information.

If you currently do not record your sickness through People Manager (UECS or WHH) or are unable to access People Manager please can you email sickness@essex.ac.uk with the details and we will record this on your behalf.

Should you need any further help on how this is done please contact staffing@essex.ac.uk



June 30, 2020

Working practices

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Victoria Beckwith @ 11:28 am

Susie Morgan, our Director of People & Culture, tells us about the responses to our ‘Working During COVID-19’ survey.

Many of us have experienced enormous changes to our working lives during the pandemic whether we are working from home, working on our campuses, or on furlough leave. I do not underestimate the scale of this change and very much appreciate how difficult it has been for colleagues as we try to create new work spaces, find new routines, stay connected, stay well, and of course balance our home and work lives.

We wanted to understand how colleagues were adjusting in recent weeks and if there was more we could put in place to help. Our ‘Working During COVID-19’ survey ran in May and I would like to thank colleagues who contributed their views and gave us ideas for future support, this was very much appreciated. In total we had 757 responses to the survey from colleagues across the University, and through  those responses we have been able to capture both the individual and shared experiences during this time. Personal and professional circumstances vary enormously; specific challenges for groups and individuals were explained and while for many there have been solutions found, it was clear for others this remains a very difficult moment of transition and the impact considerable.

Overwhelmingly colleagues appreciated the efforts and consideration by others and offered constructive feedback for how we can continue to improve the current working environment as well as prepare for future cycles of remote working. Our communications through university emails and web pages seem to have been informative and timely but we are keeping our approach under review to ensure length, format and content remain accessible and informative without duplication. It was reassuring to learn that the majority of respondents also felt that the University had managed the transition to different working environments well, although of course there is always more we can do.

The Survey has raised a number of priority areas where we can continue to build on the progress made. For example, many colleagues asked questions about their return to on-campus working. We have been working as a cross-university team to develop our guidance here including our approach to risk assessment and will shortly be publishing it.

Workspace was an important factor. The majority of respondents felt they have a workspace at home which, whilst it may not be ideal, is functioning well enough for them at the moment. This might be as a result of personal investment such as buying new equipment, finding strategies to balance shared spaces, and compromising on preferred approaches to work. A second screen is missed by many of us (myself included) and the need to continue to build digital confidence will be important for future working practices.  Providing access to equipment and technologies is an area where our Health and Safety, and ITS teams are working hard to provide the guidance and support needed and the survey captured how much this was appreciated by colleagues. We are currently trialling an approach for colleagues to be able to access their office equipment from Campus, once complete, we will publish the details of this new process to Heads of Department and Section on 02 July.

Health and wellbeing was understandably another priority area. We know that we have many resources and support available online to help colleagues in developing strategies to stay mentally and physically well at work, as well as access to specialist services when needed but we can do more to share these and help managers to share them with their teams.

As a result of the survey findings we will put in place more guidance and support for managers on areas of wellbeing, communication, delegation, online meetings, recognition, and return to role. We will also curate and share development opportunities available to everyone on topics such as how to strengthen digital skills and confidence, and working as a member of a remote team.

The responses to the survey questions can be found here: Working Practices Survey Responses

Thank you to colleagues for completing the survey. If you would like to get in touch please do email me on hrdirector@essex.ac.uk



January 17, 2020

Gender pay gap blog, January 2020

Filed under: Advice & Support,Gender equality — Tags: — Mohammed Alam @ 3:30 pm

The publication of our third annual gender pay gap report is a key moment to review our progress in relation to equal pay and to apply best practice in shaping our commitment to rewarding staff fairly, based on their contribution regardless of their personal characteristics.

There are a range of dimensions to the gender pay gap: ensuring equal pay for work of equal value, so that women and men get paid the same for similar work; and closing the overall pay gap (defined as the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across the organisation).

On the first dimension, our regular equal pay audits have confirmed that by grade and across all grades, we have no significant gender pay gaps between women and men and there is equal pay for work of equal value. On the second dimension, between 2013 and 2019, our institutional mean gender pay gap (which is a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across the University), has reduced by 8.3% (from 24.8% to 16.5%). Our institutional median gender pay gap is currently 16.2%. This represents good progress, but it is not acceptable to have any gaps at all.

Over the last three years, we have been working hard to delve deeper into the data. We know that the gap arises from the uneven distribution of men and women across grades and that we have a much higher percentage of female staff working at lower grades and a higher percentage of male staff at higher grades. We also know there are many other reasons that lead to a gender pay gap – and that we need to tackle these.

In order to identify where further progress can be made, we have therefore looked at pay gaps within sections and departments and by job families i.e. academic staff and professional services staff.

This analysis has revealed that the main driver of the gender pay gap (men’s and women’s average earnings) is large numbers of male staff in highly paid academic roles. If the five academic departments with the largest gender pay gap were removed from the calculation, the mean gender pay gap would reduce to 13.2% and the median to 11.1%. In these departments, the percentage of female staff decreases sharply at higher grades. We also know that sections/departments with more equally balanced numbers of men and women across all grades have lower pay gaps.

Future Actions

One option provided for in the Equality Act 2010 is for positive action to be taken at the point of offering employment. This means that when a panel considers that two (or more) candidates are of equal merit, the panel can select a candidate from a particular group that is under-represented. This approach might provide an opportunity for departments with large imbalances in the gender distribution of academic staff, to address this – and to this end HR will be providing guidance on how this might be taken forward.

Another option is to have a better balance between males and females.  If a department currently has 80% male academic staff and 20% female academic staff, we think our aspiration should be to have 60% males and 40% females. Our HR teams will provide each department with the necessary information to support their decision-making. We think a 60/40 distribution – whilst not ideal – will be an improvement and something to aspire to. Our ultimate long-term target is a 50/50 distribution, but this does not currently reflect trends in the sector or the UK overall.

Whilst the focus of this work requires us to consider gender as binary, we know that many members of our community identify outside the gender binary and/or as trans. We are committed to continuing to work to create an environment that is truly inclusive for everyone regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, age or disability status. I would really like to encourage you to engage in Athena SWAN work going on in your department and, if you work in a professional services section, to look out for our new Athena SWAN-inspired Essex Diversity Impact Award Scheme.

Like many, I was shocked by recent incidents involving the removal and defacing of posters in support of LGBT+ people. Their removal or defacement is utterly unacceptable and I want to encourage you to play whatever part you can, in making clear that we are community where everyone is accepted without exception.



December 18, 2019

Alcohol Awareness

Filed under: Advice & Support — Tags: — Victoria Beckwith @ 4:25 pm

Alcohol is a big part of UK culture, and features in many of our lives. For some of us, we use it for celebration, for comfort, to socialise, to wind down, or to cope.

We must be mindful that alcohol, whilst a part of many of our lives, can cause harm if misused, including mental health problems, liver disease, one of seven forms of cancer and economic difficulties.

We are committed to creating an enabling environment at the University, in which all our members can thrive, and it is important that you take care of yourselves and look after your physical and emotional wellbeing.

We are encouraging you to raise awareness of your own use of alcohol, and have provided Drinkaware scratch cards in main staff areas and receptions.

Please take and complete these cards, and if you have any worries or concerns about your use of alcohol, then there are services and support you can access, including:

Please contact Occupational Health if you have further questions about the support available.

You can also download the free Dry January app, which will help you to meet your goals, whether you want to take on Dry January, cut down your drinking, or go totally alcohol-free. You can use this app at any time to understand your drinking patterns.

 

 

 

 



December 12, 2019

Update on national strike negotiations

Filed under: Advice & Support — Mohammed Alam @ 5:35 pm

UCEA the Universities and Colleges Employers Association has announced that it will meet with UCU next week.

The meeting, which will take place on 17 December, will allow UCEA and UCU, the universities and colleges union, to discuss modifications to sector-level work regarding pay and working conditions.

Constructive dialogue on this particular part of the dispute is expected to continue into the New Year and UCEA say they are aiming to arrive at some modifications to sector-level work on the three elements of casual employment, workload and gender pay gaps/ethnicity pay as quickly as possible.

However, UCEA has re iterated that that is has no mandate across the collective employers to revisit the final pay offer.

For more information about this latest development, UCEA has issued a news release on its website.



December 9, 2019

Disability History Month: Friday 22 November – Sunday 22 December

Filed under: Equality and Diversity,Inclusion — Tags: , — Victoria Beckwith @ 12:51 pm

It’s UK Disability History Month (UKDHM), and the focus for this year is Leadership, Resistance and Culture.

Throughout the month, UKDHM will examine how the leaders of the Disabled People’s Movement managed to change the way society viewed disability, from that of it being a personal burden to a human rights issue.

Our commitment to putting people at the centre of all we do reflects this, and our aim is to create a truly disability-inclusive environment through visible leadership, working with disabled staff and students to identify and remove the barriers they face and benchmarking our progress through engagement with external schemes.

We have a disability Inclusion Champion; Bryn Morris, Registrar and Secretary, carries out this role and provides leadership in this area. We have set up a small, informal working group of people who either have a disability or want to help create a disability-inclusive environment. Our Essex Access Forum, who are a discussion forum and consultation body working to support excellence in all aspects of physical and intellectual access at Essex, is represented on this group.

We have also signed up to the Disability Confident Scheme,which helps organisations to think differently about disability in relation to employment, retention, training and career development.

It aims to:

  • challenge attitudes towards disability
  • increase understanding of disability
  • remove barriers to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions in employment
  • ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations

In addition we recently successfully renewed our Mindful Employer Charter, which demonstrates our commitment to creating an enabling environment for all of our members, and that as an employer we are positive about mental health.

We recognise that:

  • people who have mental health issues may have experienced discrimination in recruitment and selection procedures – this may discourage them from seeking employment
  • whilst some people will acknowledge their experience of mental health issues in a frank and open way, others fear that stigma will jeopardise their chances of getting a job
  • given appropriate support, the vast majority of people who have experienced mental ill health continue to work successfully as do many with ongoing issues.

If you are a recruiting manager, you should be aware of the responsibilities you have when recruiting applicants who have a disability. Please read our Recruiting applicants with a disability guidance and if you have any questions please get in touch with your HR contact.

Our occupational health services are available to provide support with any work issues relating to a disability. If you feel that you require OH services, please speak to your Line manager or your Employee Relations Advisor who will complete a referral form with you.

Occupational Health does not accept self-referrals to its service but you can send any questions you have to ohquery@essex.ac.uk

If you are interested in getting involved in access, disability and inclusion issues, you may join the Essex Access Forum.



November 8, 2019

Employee Voice

Filed under: Advice & Support — Tags: — Mohammed Alam @ 10:51 am

Our new University Strategy 2019 – 2025 puts people at the centre of everything we do.  We are committed to creating an inclusive environment where every member of staff is supported.  In order for us to see how we are doing, it is really important that we understand how you feel about working here – and whether you feel we are making progress.

I am pleased to launch our new Employee Voice website and a new all-staff survey.  Employee Voice represents our commitment to encouraging and understanding the views of our community.  We are changing the way we do surveys so that they take place more regularly but are focused on the issues we really care about.

Our new all-staff survey will be composed of 20 survey questions that span the experience of working here.  The survey uses the HSE Management Standards so that we get a full picture of possible stressors in the workplace.  Results will be shared with Heads so that they can consider what the results mean for how their Department or Section works.  The results will sit alongside other people data e.g. staff turnover to create a more complete picture.  We will look at how responses change over time and in response to new initiatives.

Alongside this, we will use more targeted surveys to capture experience at different stages of career.  A survey for leavers has already been launched, and we are piloting a survey on induction.  Next we will be developing surveys for those in leadership and management roles, and following applications for promotion (academic).  These will be sent directly to individuals at the appropriate time.

We have recently conducted a survey on flexible working, to which 460 employees responded.  That has given us a wealth of information, which we are considering carefully and will use as we take forward our agenda to create a flexible working culture.

These surveys are focused on you, our staff, and your experiences of working here at Essex.  I encourage everyone to complete the surveys.  Without your views, we will not understand whether we are making progress and where we need to do more.  Please click HERE to complete the survey.  Thank you.

 



October 1, 2019

University of the Year – Additional holiday reminder for Managers

Filed under: Advice & Support — Mohammed Alam @ 11:31 am

Following Our University winning the prestigious title of University of the Year, an additional day (pro rata for part time staff) was given to all staff, employed on or before 14 December 2018, at all of our campuses including our Students’ Union and Campus Services’ staff.

The additional holiday has to be taken during the year in which we are University of the Year i.e. between December 2018 and November 2019. The addition was added to each member of staff’s leave allocation for 2018/19 and if not taken will not be rolled forward into 2019/20.

As the time is now fast approaching the cut-off date so we would like to remind you and your staff that this additional holiday must be booked and taken before the end of November 2019. If this leave is not taken before the end of November 2019, then this additional holiday will not be carried over and will be lost.

Following the announcement on the 14 December 2018 here is some information below on the additional annual leave and how it can be booked.

Q: Who is entitled to the additional day’s annual leave?

A: Anyone who was employed by the University on or before the 14 December 2018 when the notification was released will be entitled to the additional annual leave day. Please note that those staff members who were on specific leave types on this date may not be eligible.

Q: Does this extend to UECS as well?

A: UECS, Students Union and The Edge Hotel School will be entitled to the additional leave.

Q: I am leaving the University in the next few months what will happen to my additional leave?

A: Your additional leave will still be available for you to take prior to you leaving the University.

Q: What does a day’s annual leave equate to?

A: For full-time staff, this will equate to an additional 7.2 hours, for part-time staff the additional entitlement will be pro rata to take into account a working pattern of fewer than 36 hours per week.  How we calculate this is to take the full-time entitlement of 7.2 hours to divide this by the full-time hours and then multiply this by your actual contracted hours.  E.g. 7.2 / 36 * 25 = 5 hours additional entitlement.

Q: If I don’t use my additional day’s annual leave can this be carried forward?

A: The additional day is to be used between December 2018 and the end of November 2019. There will be no facility to book this additional day beyond November 2019.

Q: I started my employment in January 2019, will I receive the additional day’s entitlement?

A: Our University won the prestigious title of the University of the Year as a result of the hard work and dedication of every member of our community, therefore the award is to recognise and reward those who were employed in the period leading up to the award being given.

How to book

Q: Will the additional day be available through HR Organiser?

A: The day will be available to book through HR Organise. This day is easily identifiable on HR Organiser as it is called ‘University of the Year’ and hold your entitlement ready for you to book.

Q: What happens to my entitlement to the day if I do not book it before November 2019?

A: We will send reminders to Managers of annual leave that is still to be booked, however, the entitlement will automatically be removed after November 2019.

Q: I still have unanswered questions, where do I go for help?

A: If you still have questions please contact staffing@essex.ac.uk and we will be happy to help.



September 11, 2019

Have your say! Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2020

Filed under: Equality and Diversity,Inclusion,LGBT+,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Victoria Beckwith @ 11:53 am

Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index is the definitive benchmarking tool for employers to measure their progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion in the workplace.

As part of the University’s Stonewall Workplace Equality Index submission, Stonewall would like to invite all of our staff to take part in their employee survey. The information you provide is anonymous and completely confidential; it is not possible for individuals to be identified through their responses.

Stonewall aims to be as transparent as possible when processing data. We have outlined below how and why they use the data that you submit for analytical purposes:

  • Reporting, to your employer, average scores and trends on key indicators of inclusion in your workplace (where sample sizes are too small, only national, regional and sector trends will be shared with your employer)
  • Reporting national, regional and sector trends on LGBT inclusion in the workplace to be included in the Stonewall Top 100 report in January 2020 and associated publications

You can access the survey using the following 4-digit code: 1685.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 1 November 2019.


 

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