Students Staff
University of Essex

March 2, 2021

No Smoking Policy

Filed under: Advice & Support — Victoria Beckwith @ 1:03 pm

In February 2020, our revised No Smoking Policy was approved by USG. Below are some headline changes:

  • Individual requirements are clearer
  • There is a stronger focus on personal judgement and responsibility within the law.
  • There is helpful signposting to internal and external sources of support and information

We are committed to creating an enabling environment at the University and our revised Policy aims to strengthen our commitment to providing a healthy and safe working environment for all. As an employee you are expected to take personal responsibility for observing this Policy.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on working life – with many employees experiencing significant changes to their lives and work routines (e.g. home-working and furlough) – has heightened many of the wellbeing risk factors, such as increased emotional pressures and social isolation. The University wish to provide as much support as possible for those who wish to give up smoking. Please contact your Employee Relations Advisor or Occupational Health if you have further questions about the support available.

November 24, 2020

Alcohol, Drug and Substance Misuse Policy

Filed under: Advice & Support,People Management — Tags: — Victoria Beckwith @ 11:05 am

In November 2020, our revised Alcohol, Drug and Substance Misuse Policy (formally the Alcohol and Drug Policy) and Manager Guidance were approved by USG. You can find them both on our Staff Directory.

Below are some headline changes:

  • Change of policy name from Alcohol and Drugs Policy to Alcohol, Drugs and Substance Misuse Policy.
  • Support for staff with an alcohol/drug problem to seek help/advice at the earliest opportunity.
  • A strong focus on wellbeing recognising that resilience and mental health are not intrinsic to the individual but are influenced by the surrounding environment.
  • A recognition that there may be moments of transition in people’s lives when difficulties may be experienced.
  • A greater clarity on roles and responsibilities for staff, line managers, colleagues and the wider People & Culture team, and weblinks to both internal and external support services.
  • Manager Guidance to accompany the Policy focusing on supporting line managers to use personal judgement where appropriate to ensure support is compassionate and adaptive to individual situations.

Whilst many people enjoy drinking alcohol socially and in moderation, there is a recognition that alcohol, psychoactive drug and substance misuse contributes to health problems accidents at work, absenteeism, to inefficient working and, in extreme cases, social breakdown.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on working life –with many employees experiencing significant changes to their lives and work routines (e.g. home-working and furlough) – has heightened many of the wellbeing risk factors, such as increased emotional pressures and social isolation. It is vital that we create an environment where people feel able to ask for help and confident that they will be supported to get the help they need.

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. Our revised Policy aims to strengthen our commitment to providing a healthy and safe working environment for all.

Please contact your Employee Relations Adviser or 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.

November 9, 2020

Changes to Essential Training

Filed under: Advice & Support — Tags: — Mohammed Alam @ 3:39 pm

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the launch of ‘How we work at Essex’ that will replace the existing suite of Essential Training for all employees. This has been developed to better reflect our values, reduce the workload required to complete Essential Training and to respond to feedback from colleagues. A new programme to replace the current suite of Essential Training for managers ‘Do you manage the Essex way?’ is also being developed for launch in March 21.

The termly Essential Training reports and Essential Training policy have been updated to reflect this new approach to Essential Training for all employees. The termly reports will be updated to reflect the new training and the new policy outlines a need for all employees to engage with annual refresher training. More information about these developments can be found below:

  1. How we work at Essex aims to extend the focus of Essential Training to include values-based decisions and behaviours in addition to ensuring that colleagues are aware of their statutory obligations, professional standards and legal requirements. It is anticipated that the course will take approximately 2-3 hours to complete with a short refresher for all staff expected every academic year. How we work at Essex will be launched on week commencing 23rd November with termly reports being sent in late January.
  2. Do you manage the Essex way? Is being designed to provide managers at Essex with a greater understanding of how we manage at Essex. Resources and guidance will be available to support managers in their role. It will include insights from managers, practical activities and an opportunity to plan your future development as a manager. We intend to launch this in late March and will keep you updated with developments.
  3. Annual refresher training. To ensure that colleagues continue to be fully supported in their roles, Essential Training refreshers will need to be completed after the start of academic year 2021-22. It will introduce important legislative changes that people will need to be aware of, raise relevant issues or themes that have emerged during the last year and test essential aspects of How We Work at Essex.

If you have any questions or feedback regarding our Moodle resources or approach please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at

August 5, 2020

Diversifying Leadership

Filed under: Advice & Support,Developing Excellence — Mohammed Alam @ 2:16 pm

As part of the University’s commitment to support Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff transition into leadership roles, 2 places have been funded to attend the Advance HE programme Diversifying Leadership. The programme is designed to support early-career academics and professional services staff from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds who are about to take their first steps into a leadership role. It explores themes of power and influence, demystifying leadership, cultural identity and cultural capital, increasing your visibility and authentic leadership and features leadership stories from high-profile HE leaders.

“The diversifying leadership programme is excellent because it helped me to understand the structures and systems that I needed to navigate to achieve my goals as a Black academic. I had extensive experience in Higher Education and although I was very aware of the barriers that existed, I didn’t fully understand what I had to do to overcome them and achieve the goals that I knew I was capable of. The programme provided valuable insight into the role of ‘sponsors’ and how they facilitate a supportive environment for Black academics to flourish. On completion of this  programme I was able to successfully apply for ‘permanency’ and promotion to senior lecturer. Structural racism does impact Black academics, but this programme helps participants to understand the barriers and hurdles that they need to overcome to achieve their objectives and goals.”

Feedback from a previous participant on the programme 

Further information and the application form can be found on Leadership courses. Please submit questions and completed application forms to by 5pm on 21 August

July 2, 2020

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 with the details and we will record this on your behalf.

Should you need any further help on how this is done please contact

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.

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 and we will be happy to help.


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