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Supporting staff through change
Extra information and support is being provided to staff in facilities management and catering who are due to transfer to external partners next summer.
Staff have this week received further information on the ‘TUPE’ provision that protects their terms and conditions, and are being offered 1-1 meetings with colleagues in Human Resources. Question-and-answer sessions for directly affected staff are also being held for with the senior staff leading the project.
Workshops for the staff concerned were held in June and July and feedback from these has helped to shape the support and information now being provided to staff.
The University announced in May 2012 its intention to identify high-quality external partners to provide facilities management and catering services on campus.
The University has been keen to stress that the move is not a criticism of the current services, but that, as Sussex undergoes a step change involving unprecedented growth and development, it is the best way of enhancing and developing these services.
In total, 235 staff (out of the 969 staff in professional services) are affected by the proposal and they will move to new employers in summer 2013.
Jane Summerville, Director of Human Resources, said: “We want to continue to help staff to understand the process we are going through.
“We recognise that this is a period of uncertainty. We will have identified our new partners in the spring and TUPE consultation will then take place.
“We want to help tackle some of the misconceptions that have arisen so, for example, we are reassuring staff that the protection of their terms and conditions under TUPE does not come to an end after a fixed period.
“We also hope the Q&A sessions with myself, John Duffy and Allan Spencer can help to address key issues or concerns that staff have as we go through this process.”
Managers of the services due to transfer have been invited to specially arranged workshops in October to help them manage themselves and their teams through this period of transition.
The Registrar & Secretary, John Duffy, said: “Supporting staff in these important services through a period of transition is crucial.”
The University will continue this autumn to meet with and provide information to the three campus trades unions, having had a total of nine meetings since the announcement in May. The University has also met with the Students’ Union and will do so again in the autumn term.
Focus groups in the summer with some staff in professional services who are not directly affected, with academics and with the Students’ Union, have also fed into the process of shaping up requirements for future services.
The University is now in a period of “competitive dialogue” with potential external partners.
John Duffy said: “The competitive dialogue process is necessarily a long one, lasting a good number of months. It involves exhaustive discussions so that potential partners can best understand us and the way the University works. This approach, while lengthy, will help to ensure we identify the best-quality partners who fit well with the University.
“These discussions have reinforced our view that external partners – focussed as they are on the specific services we need – are best placed to continue to develop our services and to invest in staff, systems and technologies that will enable us to maintain a culture of continuous improvement in what we offer to our staff and students.”