Higher education staff received best pay increases in public sector

Staff working in the higher education (HE) sector have enjoyed the best pay increases in the public sector in recent years, according to a new report.

Research from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) found that pay increased by at least 30% between 2001 and 2007, with an increase of at least 13.1% under the 2006 pay agreement.

The majority of staff now work fixed weekly hours between 35 and 37 hours a week, compared with 38 or 39 hours for many previously. Workers are also one of the most generously rewarded of all employee groups when it comes to holidays: academic staff have a median leave entitlement of 35 days, compared with 25 days for the whole UK economy.

Three-quarters of the 109 institutions surveyed offered flexible working arrangements, with 94% offering maternity pay provisions above the statutory entitlement.

Bill Wakeham, UCEA chairman, said: “Over the last few years, a very considerable effort has been made to recognise the large contributions from staff by means of various enhanced elements of an overall reward package.

“There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the total reward package for HE staff is certainly as good as, and in some respects better than, other parts of public services and the private sector.”

The report did state that further progress was needed on equality and diversity practice and promoting wellbeing by tackling causes of stress.

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