A college has gone back on its “threat” not to pay part-time agency staff over delayed student assessment work — after FE Week made senior leaders aware of the dispute.
Twelve self-employed agency workers from FE Resources, a “sub-company” of Lincoln College, received an initial email on June 7 telling them they wouldn’t be paid until additional work had been completed.
The email complained that student assessments had not been “completed, marked and tracked to schedule”, and warned that the college would not authorise their May timesheets “until your respective learning skills leads have identified that [they] are up-to-date in relation to marking and tracking”.
George Reid, a public services lecturer who received the email and has worked with the college for eight years as an agency worker, alerted FE Week to the upset it had caused him and others.
A college spokesperson said on Monday (June 13) that senior managers had not been aware of the “unauthorised” email.
He said: “Although well intentioned and motivated by improving learner outcomes, this email communication to a small number of staff did not reflect appropriate action in terms of managing performance. The email was not authorised by the senior management team.
“Payment will be processed without delay and the issue of incomplete student assessments will be picked up through our recognised performance management channels.”
The initial “unauthorised” email complained that “there are cases where student progress cannot be accurately established at this point as assessments haven’t been completed, marked and tracked to schedule.
“It is imperative that student assessment work is marked and tracked as a matter of urgency at this point.”
It stressed that the warning over non-payment for May was not designed to be “threatening or to scaremonger”.
But Mr Reid told FE Week that he disagreed.
He said: “I’m really upset and disappointed by the email because this job is my livelihood.
“I have two young children and potentially losing out on that money was going to have a drastic effect on my finances for the next three months.”
Mr Reid added it was “out of order” given the “threat” was only made to agency workers, not full-time employees.
He said: “It is totally unfair that we are being treated differently to full-time staff. It is picking on agency staff, and if you kick off then you won’t get any agency work next year.
“We’ve been treated really poorly. I go out of my way to help and put the extra effort in and yet all what happens is you get threatened.”
Sue Davis, a University and College Union regional official, said she was “not surprised” that “such an appalling incident” had occurred, when staff were “stuck on casual and insecure contracts”.
She added: “These staff find themselves in a hire and fire culture more associated with Sports Direct than an education system.
“College staff should be on permanent contracts to allow them to plan their lives properly and be treated with respect at work.”
Main pic: Lincoln college