Taking action in higher education


National negotiating framework

National agreement on equality in further education

This agreement is for all FE colleges in England and Wales and has been agreed with the Association of Colleges. It replaced the individual guidance on disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and transgender.

It should be cross-referenced against other relevant joint agreements including: adoption leave; compassionate leave, time off for fertility treatment and dependent's leave; equal pay; harassment and bullying; maternity leave; parental leave; paternity leave.

An important part of the agreement is that it clearly acknowledges that discrimination exists and that no one should suffer discrimination at work. Sections 1 - 3 make this commitment clear and 3.3 - 3.6 states:

  • The college will seek not only to eliminate discrimination, but also to provide a positive working environment free from discrimination, harassment and victimisation, where all employees are treated with respect and dignity.
  • The aim is to create a positive and inclusive ethos where issues of discrimination and stereotyping can be discussed openly; with a shared commitment to challenging and preventing discrimination (whether overt or covert), to respecting diversity and difference, and to encourage good relations between different groups.
  • Discriminatory behaviour against employees will not be tolerated, whether that behaviour comes from other employees, students or third parties, such as employers, contractors or members of the public.
  • In ensuring that the college's commitments are fully effective, and that all employees are committed to them, colleges should work locally in partnership with recognised trade unions, staff equality groups and with employees, including those who identify with a protected characteristic, in the development and implementation of equality policies and objectives.

Colleges must adopt the agreement locally and FE branches are urged to raise this with their employers.

Higher education - national negotiating pack

UCU's Higher Education Committee has produced detailed guidance on undertaking local negotiations which is available to branch officers. The guidance includes key negotiating issues, details national policy and agreement and checklists to support the bargaining process.  Equality issues are included and include equal pay, disability leave and Implications of working internationally. For further information branches should contact their regional office.

UCU can help you develop your knowledge, expertise and experience of negotiating on equality through:

  • the national training programme
  • the national equality conference
  • participation in the equality standing committees
  • accessing the guidance and briefings available on the UCU website
  • organising events on equality issues including establishing equality networks.

Please get in touch with the equality and participation team at UCU if you want further information or support. Email: eqadmin@ucu.org.uk

Last updated: 16 May 2016