KNOW Your Rights!

your-rights-hammerYou have a number of rights which have been negotiated and apply university-wide.

Did you know that....?

  • You are entitled to a balanced workload of teaching, related administration, research & scholarly activity and other duties.
  • You are also entitled to a reasonable workload undertaken in a normal working week of 37 hours, allocated in a transparent fashion and reviewed in the annual Staff development & Appraisal process?
  • You cannot be required to engage in teaching or teaching-related activities outside a maximum of 36 weeks plus 2 weeks administration.
  • Each hour of formal scheduled teaching teaching must generate at least one hour of teaching delivery related activity (TDRA), e.g. preparation.
  • You cannot be required to teach more than:
    • 4 hours consecutively
    • 18 hours in any week, except occasionally in areas such as performing arts and art, where the nature of the curriculum and teaching style make it inappropriate
    • 550 hours in any year
    • 2 evenings in any week, counting evening as starting at 6 pm
  • You are entitled to take meal breaks at normal times
  • You have a right to 35 days' annual leave and you can request up to 6 weeks of this in one block, which cannot be unreasonably refused.
  • The time outside teaching and admin weeks, customary and statutory holidays and your annual leave is to be primarily devoted to self-managed research and scholarly activity. That means that in the present academic year you should be getting 27 days RSA, outside teaching weeks.


If you are being deprived of any of these rights, then we want to hear from you. UCU and its predecessor NATFHE have worked very hard to secure them and we are not preapared to see them undermined. We can intercede with Management on your behalf. If you want advice about any problem concerning your workload, contact your Faculty representatives.

Local Agreements

Here you can find the texts of important agreements between UCU and Northumbria University. Please note that this page is under construction. More documents will be added in due time.

What rights does a union have when it is recognised?

If the union is an independent union (i.e. has a certificate of independence issued by the Certification Officer) a number of legal rights follow. These rights include:

  • Disclosure of information by the employer for collective bargaining purposes
  • Reasonable time off, with pay, for union officials to carry out union duties
  • Reasonable time off, without pay, for members to carry out union activities
  • To appoint safety committee representatives
  • Consultation prior to redundancy
  • Consultation prior to business transfers.

There are Codes of Practice issued by ACAS on Disclosure of Information and Time Off, which give more detail.

What information must be disclosed by the employer to our union for collective bargaining purposes?

The law says that, where an independent trade union is recognised by the employer, the union is entitled to be given information which is relevant to the scope of its recognition, which is material to the issue being negotiated and which disclosure is in accordance with good industrial relations. Examples may include information about a company's financial position in a pay claim, or investment plans in a redundancy situation.
There is an ACAS Code of Practice setting out guidelines and recommended best practice for parties engaged in collective bargaining.
Complaints alleging failure by employers to disclose relevant information may be made to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), who may make a declaration and, eventually could make an award against the employer altering the terms and conditions of employment.

Know your rights - information for casualised staff

As casualised staff it is very important that you know your rights so that you can exercise them. The bullet points below outline your employment rights and provide links to further information.

  • You should have a contract with a full statement of your terms and conditions when you start your job:
  • You should have the same access to work facilities as other members of staff including computing facilities, photocopying and secretarial support. If you don't and the reason is because you are part-time or fixed-term then you may be able to challenge your employer.
  • You have the legal right to join a union.
  • Your employer has a legal responsibility for the health, welfare and safety of staff. This extends beyond the physical environment and includes workload and stress.
  • You should have a safe and healthy work space: 
  • Employment law provides protection for workers against discrimination at work on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, race, disability, religion or belief and the membership of or non-membership of a trade union.
  • If you have been working for more than two years you are entitled to redundancy pay.
  • Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002: this legislation states that you should not be treated less favourably than other comparable staff. This includes pay, inductions and career development. Also, that after four years with the same institution you may be entitled to a permanent / open ended However, your right to a permanent contract will not tackle poor terms and conditions so you need to talk to your branch first.
  • The Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 state that part-time staff and hourly-paid staff should not be treated less favourably than comparable full-time staff. This includes: the same equivalent hourly rate of pay; sick pay; maternity pay; parental leave; holidays and access to staff development and training:  
  • UCU information about maternity rights

For further details go to: and the TUC worksmart site for a wide range of issues, including agency workers' rights:

Useful Website


You will find in this section document and resources to help you deal with various problems at work.

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