This branch of UNISON is running a campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of taking a proper break at lunch time. Taking a break has been shown to improve wellbeing and mental health as well as increasing productivity – a win-win for everyone!

Reclaim your lunch July 2015






As a start to the campaign we organised a picnic lunch in the Peace Gardens on Wednesday 8th July. Several members attended the lunch where there was fruit available, a raffle and the chance to catch up with colleagues. We also had two new members sign up on the day.

The main raffle prize of a pedometer was won by Lucy Davies, Sue Lund and Sarah Bond won t-shirts, Lucinda Wakefield and Barbara Mainland won vouchers for SHU Active.

Hallam Active has generously donated more free class vouchers and if you were unable to attend the lunch and would like to make use of the vouchers, please contact Tracey Holland who will arrange to send you a voucher. If you give the gym a try, let us know how you get on!

We are planning further follow up activities – if you have any suggestions just let us know!




In early November, an Employment Appeal Tribunal decision in three linked cases hit the headlines.   The central issue was whether holiday pay should be calculated to reflect regular but non-contractual overtime pay.


Traditionally, the pay workers receive while on holiday has often been calculated on the basis of a week’s “basic salary”, which would exclude things like allowances, expenses, commission payments and overtime.  A 2004 case established that overtime should only be included if the employer was contractually required to provide overtime (which is rare, more usually workers are required to work overtime but employers are not required to provide it).   A succession of recent cases has started to change this.   In one, Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd (involving a UNISON member), the European Court of Justice eventually ruled that holiday pay should include commission payments, if these were part of normal pay.  A significant drop in earnings was assessed to be a deterrent to workers taking their annual leave, thereby breaching the Working Time Directive.


In the latest test cases (Fulton v Bear (Scotland), Hertel (UK Ltd) v Wood and Others, and Amec Group Ltd v Law and Others), the judge reversed the 2004 decision, concluding that where employees were required to work overtime when it was offered, even if employers were not required to offer it, overtime pay and other allowances which constitute “normal pay” should be included in holiday pay calculations.   Holiday pay should include all regular work payments, so that workers do not suffer financially when taking annual leave.


This ruling would seem to enable claims to be brought in respect of underpaid holiday pay, where it has been incorrectly calculated in the light of the above ruling.  


However, the advice we have received from UNISON Yorkshire & Humberside Regional HQ suggests that caution is required.


First of all, the ruling could still be appealed – final resolution may take a long time yet.


Secondly, the ruling can be interpreted in different ways. 


Thirdly, it is not clear that we have anyone at Sheffield Hallam who this ruling would apply to, regardless of interpretation.   


Fourthly, the ruling also states that the new entitlement would only apply to the basic four weeks’ statutory holiday entitlement under the Working Time Directive, not all annual leave entitlement (i.e. not including contractual leave and the additional 1.6 weeks leave provided for in UK law) .  This minimum statutory leave, it seems, was determined by the judge to constitute the first 20 days of annual leave taken in any leave year.  


Fifthly, for a claim to be valid it must be made within three months of an underpayment for holiday. 


And sixthly, where there has been a series of underpayments, a claim could theoretically be made to recover back pay for the historic series of underpayments.  However, only those underpayments made within three months of each other count as part of a series for which back pay could be claimed.   In other words, if there has been more than a three month gap between underpayments for annual leave, the series is broken and the amount of back pay that could be claimed is limited to the most recent period of leave for which there was an underpayment.   This is a significant limitation, given holiday patterns and given that only the first 20 days of annual leave in a leave year counts anyway.


In conclusion, this judgement is interesting but complex, and any member who believes that they have been underpaid for holiday in the light of this judgement should contact Dan Bye, Branch Secretary, as soon as possible.  





Despite quite a few of our members having left SHU over the past few years  we have managed to maintain membership levels through recruitment campaigns. So please could you pass this latest offer on to anyone you think maybe interested in joining.  We need to continue to have a strong membership to remain to have an influence within the University.

NUS card refund if you join UNISON

Join UNISON at SHU and we will cover the cost of NUS extra card*. With this card you get hundreds of discounts including 10% off most things at the Co-op and discounts at many clothing and restaurant chains. To qualify you need to be new to UNISON or not to have been a member for a least one year. UNISON represents admin and technical staff at the University and campaigns on pay and conditions. It also provides help relating to non work issues such as debt and legal advice.  For an application form please contact Ian Chesters I.Chesters@shu.ac.uk or x6060.

*On joining UNISON we will refund the equivalent cost of the card for 1 year. The NUS Extra card is available to all SHU staff. The offer to new members stands whilst this card remains available to SHU staff or until 31 March 2014, whichever comes first.”




Do you know of any members who have been off or are approaching 6 weeks sick leave?  If you do, we would like to send them a card which includes a pre-paid return slip for the member to choose a gift of fruit, flowers or chocolates. Just contact your local steward or officer, details here unisonshu.org.uk/contacts or contact Joanne (Branch Administrator) at unisonadmin@exchange.shu.ac.uk with the member’s name and department.


Bob Geldof has lent his support to UNISON’s Higher Education members, telling workers on a crowded picket line in Leeds that “a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”

Universities and colleges have been operating with skeleton staff with UNISON members attending rallies up and down the country in a walkout over pay.
Staff working in a wide variety of jobs including course administrators, caterers, cleaners, security staff have caused widespread disruption in 21 towns and cities. Walkouts have forced the closure of libraries, health centres and food courts, with several universities cancelling classes before the industrial action started.
250 employees attended a rally in Bristol, while 80 union pickets covered building entrances at universities throughout the north-west. UNISON members occupying an empty car park at Staffordshire University received widespread support from students.
The union has labelled the offer of a 1% pay rise “miserly” as cash-rich universities continue to pay more than 4,000 staff less than the Living Wage, which stands at £7.45 and £8.55 in London.
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis was one of hundreds of people occupying more than 70 picket lines across London, with UNISON members standing alongside those from UCU and Unite. He said:

“Our members are the backbone of universities. They work hard to support students on campus, they run the libraries, take care of course administration, feed the students, keep them safe, clean their accommodation and university premises, and yet their contribution to university life is so often overlooked.

“The vast majority are low paid. A 1% increase for the lowest paid works out at £11.23 a month – not even enough to cover the latest gas bill rises. By contrast the vast majority of vice chancellors are sitting pretty on £242,000 a year – the equivalent of 18 years’ wages for those at the bottom.”


UNISON has confirmed that alongside its sister trade unions UCU, Unite and EIS fresh talks will be held with the employers in an attempt to resolve the current dispute over higher education pay.

UNISON members alongside their colleagues from UCU, Unite and EIS are due to take a second day of strike action on 3 December 2013 in response to the current offer of a 1% salary increase for staff.

But all parties have agreed to use ACAS to facillitate exploratory talks on a resolution at a meeting on 26 November 2013 at the ACAS offices in London.

UNISON has expressed its disappointment that the national HE employers organisation UCEA has provocatively suggested to universities that they can choose to pay their 1% pay offer “on account” to staff, whilst the current dispute over pay remains unresolved.



After an early start on picket lines hundreds of staff from both universities joined forces  to march around the city centre to protest about pay. Students demonstrated their solidarity by marching with university staff.

The rally made its way to Barkers Pool at midday where speakers, including Simon Renton, national president of UCU,  and Hallam UNISON Branch Secretary Dan Bye, addressed the large gathering to outline the reasons for the protest.

Police officers with the rally approximated 300 to 400 strikers were active.