College staff pay

UNISON is the leading union for support staff in further education colleges, and the only recognised union in sixth forms.

Nationally and locally we campaign on improving pay, including introducing the living wage for the lowest paid college workers, and tackling the gender pay gap.

How do pay negotiations work?

In England, pay for staff in further education is negotiated between the FE unions and the Association of Colleges (AoC) in the national joint forum (NJF). UNISON is represented on the NJF by staff working in colleges.

In February 2021 FE members in England were asked to vote on the 1%/£250 pay recommendation. 87% of members who voted rejected this recommendation.

We are calling for a significant move to restore pay in further education to 2009 levels this year. Our calculator shows that in colleges which have implemented the nationally negotiated pay recommendations from the AoC in the past 10 years pay would be nearly 30% in real terms – but many colleges have not even given these rises. You can input the pay awards offered by your local college to see how much you should be earning.

Try the pay calculator

In Wales, the joint trade unions negotiate with ColegauCymru, the employers.

Cymru/Wales 2020/21 pay claim

Following negotiations and consultation with members, support staff in UNISON have accepted this offer from ColegauCymru:

  • Business support staff 3.1%  (was initially 2.75% in line with NJC)
  • Staff on MG1 8.48%
  • Staff on other MG grades 3.75%
  • Staff on UP grades 2.75%
  • Managers 2.75%

Scotland has an effective national bargaining mechanism. Support staff pay is negotiated separately from teachers’ pay and all pay offers made have to be implemented in individual colleges.

Scotland 2020 pay claim

In Northern Ireland the employers’ representative, Colleges Northern Ireland, was disbanded in June 2018.

Term time working and holiday pay

UNISON secured a victory in a Court of Appeal case in summer 2019 which ruled that all employees are entitled to statutory minimum of 28 days paid annual leave even if they do not work for part of the year or work irregular hours. The judgment also confirmed that this should be paid at the rate of a week’s pay (and if this is irregular, then the average over the previous 12 weeks). If you’re unsure about how your college has calculated your holiday pay, your UNISON rep can help.


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