Reform of the Academic Annex

The School has commenced work to reform the Academic Annex and the associated procedures for dealing with the employment matters of academic and research staff here at the LSE.

The School has set up this dedicated web site in order that all staff can access relevant information in a timely manner.

On 1st June 2012 the Schools Director, Professor Judith Rees, emailed colleagues in academic and research posts. You can read her message here.|

The School will update the contents of this site at each key stage.

Questions and Answers on reform of HR procedures covering academics at LSE

Q. Why does the Academic Annex need reform?

A. The procedures covered in the Annex relate to grievances, discipline, ill health termination and redundancy at LSE. These stem from the Education Reform Act in the late 1980s, and are similar to those which have applied in many other chartered institutions in the sector – however, there is a growing trend to modernise and reform these procedures.

A number of institutions (such as King’s College London, Imperial and other Russell Group institutions) have already updated the HR procedures contained in their statutes and ordinances (which is their equivalent of the School’s Academic Annex). Others are currently working on similar projects.

At LSE, our concern is that the procedures are cumbersome, un-helpful in resolving employment issues in a reasonable timescale and not in line with current employment law.

Q. Will the reform of the Academic Annex increase job insecurity at LSE?

A. Absolutely not. The intention behind reforming the Annex is to make procedures compliant with modern employment law and fairer to both individuals and LSE as a whole.

Q. Will the reform of the Academic Annex undermine academic freedom at LSE?

A. Again, the answer is no. As with the current Annex, LSE's Strategic Plan and emerging Ethics Code, Academic Freedom will be at the heart of the Annex – it will ensure that academic staff have the freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges.

Q. In what way does the Academic Annex contravene best practice or employment law?

A. It does so in a number of ways. Eight of the most serious areas for concern are set out below:

1. Parts of the Annex refer to employment legislation that was repealed many years ago – a clear sign that the Annex needs to be brought up to date.

2. The current procedures under the Annex involve overly formal hearings, which are often adversarial in nature. This approach is often unsatisfactory and overly-confrontational for all involved, particularly in relation to grievance hearings. It does not promote the effective resolution of employment disputes and often simply serves to make resolution more difficult by entrenching positions. This is far from satisfactory.

3. If a grievance concerns a head of department, the matter goes straight to the grievance committee for consideration and there is no right of appeal against this committee’s decision. This is incompatible with the ACAS Code of Practice which requires an appeal stage and if a subsequent tribunal claim were successful this could lead to a 25 per cent increase in any compensation award.

4. Under the Annex any performance issues are dealt with under the same procedure as misconduct or disciplinary offences. This is not a modern approach and reform of the Annex will allow the adoption of a specific and more appropriate procedure for dealing with performance concerns, with a focus on supporting improvements in performance.

5. While the ACAS Codes of Practice stress that issues should be dealt with without unreasonable delay, the procedures in the Annex make this very difficult to achieve. As well as being out of step with good practice and modern employment law requirements, this creates significant anxiety and stress for those involved in the procedures.

6. There is a clear conflict between processes set out in Part II of the Annex governing redundancy and with the requirements of unfair dismissal legislation. Indeed, if the processes in the Annex were followed to the letter, the School would not be legally compliant and dismissals would be unfair

7. The procedures set out for disciplinary action in Part III of the Annex fall well short of best practice, and indeed the relevant ACAS Code of Practice, in not enabling cases to be dealt with promptly and by requiring the Director to take decisions around dismissal without actually being involved in hearing the evidence in any disciplinary case

8. Part IV outlines the procedure to be followed by the School when contemplating the removal of an academic member of staff due to incapacity on medical grounds. The current procedure says little about what should happen before termination is contemplated. Furthermore, this procedure does not differentiate between recurrent short term sickness absence and long term sickness absence. This needs to be brought in line with good employment practice.

Q. What happens next?

A. The School will consult all relevant parties – UCU (as the recognised trade union for academic staff), Academic Board, the Council and the Court of Governors. We aim to implement the new arrangements towards the end of 2012 but the timescale for this exercise is fluid – it is important that we get this right.

Once we have a reformed Academic Annex, the School will need to seek agreement from the Privy Council to amend the Annex itself and also to amend the School's Articles of Association (to remove the existing Academic Annex and replace it with a new one).

 

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