A personal view from SRD shop steward Phil Henshaw

The University makes it clear it wants to be a supportive employer and to provide staff with support, guidance and online resources to make sure their physical, mental and social wellbeing needs are met throughout their career at the university.

Most staff will not experience problems where they need the support of the employer, but recent cases taken up by UNISON suggest that when they do they can feel isolated and unsupported, almost as though they have to battle with the institution whilst they try to address their issues.

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Phased returns

The University has agreed a new approach to phased returns.  Staff returning to work following illness are sometimes recommended to phase their return to work by building up their hours gradually over a period of weeks.

There has been mixed practice across the University in how phased returns are managed.  In many cases staff were expected to use annual leave or temporarily reduce their contracted hours when phasing their return to work and HR initially proposed that all phased returns should be managed in this way.

Following representations by UNISON however, a new approach has been agreed.  For the first four weeks of a phased return staff will be paid for their normal contracted hours and will not have to use annual leave for any time not worked.  In the vast majority of cases this will be sufficient for staff to build back up to their contracted hours.

We believe this is a positive outcome that will benefit our members who are struggling to return to work after illness.

Negotiating staff policies

SHU unions work in partnership with the University to develop new staff policies and review existing ones.  Policies are discussed and developed at the Employment Policy Development Group (EPDG) and agreed at the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC).  UNISON also has a representative on the University’s Health, Safety and Welfare Committee (HSWC).

On this page we will post news on recently agreed policies and those that are coming up for review.  We welcome members’ views – you can comment below or contact the specified officers who sit on EPDG and JNC, Dan Bye and Fran Belbin; or for HSWC, contact James Eaton.