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Human Resources

Discretionary Awards

1. Introduction

1.1  Limited funds are available to recognise members of staff, or groups of staff, who make a special, one-off contribution to the University's work and aims.

1.2  In order to recognise special contributions as soon as possible after the event, awards can be made at any time throughout the year.

1.3  Discretionary Awards are distinct from Exceptional Contribution Payments (ECPs), promotion and regrading.

Discretionary Awards are one-off payments while ECPs are permanent pay increases through additional increments on the member of staff's pay scale.

1.4  Discretionary Awards may be a financial payment or made in some other form (see section 3.4). If the award is monetary, it will be a one-off payment, ie not consolidated into pay.  If it is to be taken as a non-cash award, advice may be obtained from your Finance contact on the effective taxation treatment of such an award.

1.5  All staff employed by the University are eligible for nomination to receive a Discretionary Award.

2. Process for Nominations

2.1  Nominations for awards are made by completing the Discretionary Award Nomination Form.

2.2  Nominations for members of staff or teams should be made by a manager or senior member of staff to their Head of Department, or by Heads of Departments.  Self-nominations will not be accepted. 

2.3  Completed nomination forms should be sent to the relevant Head of Division. 

2.4  The total amount available is adjusted annually according to the University's overall financial position. An allocation is agreed each year within the normal planning round.

3. Link to University Strategy through Divisional and Departmental/Section Plans.

3.1  The purpose of allocating a Discretionary Award is to recognise a special contribution to the University's work and aims by effective teams or individuals.

3.2  Nominations must show how this special contribution stands apart from normal expectations and how it has impacted directly or indirectly on the achievement of the objectives at University, Divisional or departmental level.  It is not designed as a payment 'in turn' for staff who are performing their normal job well.

3.3  It is intended that these guidelines should develop naturally based on actual experience rather than being overly prescriptive at the outset so that the scheme remains open to fresh ideas.

3.4  Non-pay awards may include contributing to travel costs or attendance at conferences, contributing to external training and development courses, funds to assist with scholarship and research, contributing to the purchase of equipment to assist new staff with their research, contributing to travel associated with study leave, or team celebration events such as College dinners, .

4.  Guidelines for nominating and approving a Discretionary Award

4.1  The form and amount of the award is at the discretion of the Head of Division.  The award may take the form of a one-off payment or a non-pay award to help meet an individual's or a team's particular goal.  The maximum amount to any individual has initially been set at £1,000, and this amount will be subject to regular review.  

4.2  The allocation of the award will be made fairly and consistently. Heads of Divisions will be responsible for ensuring that this occurs through close co-operation and cross-Divisional exchange of criteria with the assistance of HR to help build up of examples of good practice. The allocation process will be monitored by the Director of Human Resources for equality of opportunity in line with our Diversity and Equality Policy and our Equal Pay Policy and regular reports will be provided to the University Executive Committee.

4.3  Once individual or team recipients of the Discretionary Award have been notified of their award, their names may be made public to recognise achievement and recognition and for reasons of transparency.  

4.4  As this reward is discretionary there is no right of appeal and the decision of the Divisional Head is final.

4.5  The nomination, decision-making and monitoring processes are as follows:

  • Nomination for individuals or teams is forwarded to Head of Department
  • Head of Dept forwards approved nomination with covering letter to Head of Division
  • Head of Division review nominations and approves recipient(s)
  • Head of Division forwards proposed list of approved nominations to HR Manager for review.  HR Manager contacts Head of Division to finalise awards.
  • Head of Division notifies Head of Dept of decision, with copy to HR
  • Head of Division notifies individual or team, with copy to Head of Dept
  • HR authorises Payroll to process payment (where applicable)
  • HR compiles a summary list of discretionary awards for Equal Opportunities monitoring purposes