Workload Allocation Model – UCU Advice

As of the 2016–17 academic year, the University has implemented an Academic Workload Model that applies across the University. UCU has been consulted with respect to this model, but there has been no negotiation with respect to a considerable number of its features, most specifically the tariffs. UCU representatives have raised and continue to raise a number of concerns, many of which have still not been addressed.

Cardiff UCU offers in principle a cautious welcome to the introduction of a workload framework that aspires to enable all academic staff to develop their full potential; to provide parity, consistency and fairness of treatment in the allocation of work; to manage the health and safety of staff (particularly with regard to stress, well-being and work-life balance); to meet the University’s equality and diversity obligations.

The Vice-Chancellor has stressed in his emails that he is acutely aware of how hard we all work, and of the stresses and strains we are all under: an effective Workload Allocation Model that both recognizes this hard work and seeks to alleviate some of the stresses and strains is essential to realizing the University’s ambitions as set out in The Way Forward.

The document Workload Modelling: Guidance Notes for Users available on the Intranet is a 29-page document (which is itself to be read alongside the University’s Workloads Policy). This briefing draws on that document, and offers a condensed checklist of factors to look out for in checking your modelled workload.

If after reading this document you observe a considerable number of discrepancies between your modelled workload and the University’s workloads policy, , we advise you carefully to go through Workload Modelling: Guidance Notes for Users to look for further discrepancies, and if necessary to consult a UCU caseworker: if you wish to do this, please email to ask for a caseworker request form.

University Management insists on allocating 1,500 hours’ of work over the year. This is rounded down from 1509 hours, calculated according to a 35-hour working week, including 37 days’ annual leave. Obviously, any more than a single day’s absence e.g. for medical appointments, annual leave carried forward or sick leave will reduce the actually available working time to below the figure of 1,500 hours. It is therefore imperative that modelled workloads include enough time for all tasks that can reasonably be expected of colleagues, including for all routine administration and self-administration (e.g. responding to email, time-management and prioritization, attendance at routine meetings and PDR, &c.). A modelled workload that does not allow adequate time for these effectively over-estimates colleagues’ freely disposable time, or requires colleagues to work unpaid overtime. Neither of these is acceptable.

University Management asserts that workload allocations ‘will be planned around known planned absences’, including parental leave, secondment, study leave, NHS job plans, and part-worked years for starters and leavers, with work ‘allocated pro rata in relation to the remaining available hours’ in order to ensure the maintenance of ‘appropriate proportions of all relevant categories of work’ in the remaining time. So first, please check whether any appropriate deductions have been applied: if not, disagree with your allocated workload on these grounds.

In particular, if you have disability-related reasonable adjustments to your workload in place (for example because of an impairment that affects the time you require to perform aspects of your work, or in order to attend treatment), this should be explicit and clear in your workload allocation (for example in a reduction of the number of allocated hours, or the use of adjusted tariffs that allow you extra time for certain tasks). If this is not the case, disagree with your allocated workload on these grounds (if you have any difficulties in getting these adjustments to your workload put in place, please email to ask for a caseworker request form).

The following table (adapted and simplified from p. 4) summarizes the minimum and maximum allocations of work of the different categories, across the three pathways:

Minimum and maximum allocations of categories of work

  Teaching & Research Teaching & Scholarship Research
Categories of work Hours per Year

Academic Management and Administration



100 to 600



200 to 450



Engagement, Consultancy, Knowledge transfer


up to 250


Good Citizenship / General academic duties


50 to 125


50 to 125


50 to 125


PGR Supervision


up to 300


up to 300


up to 300




200 to 600



up to 1200


Teaching and support for teaching


200 to 600


600 to 900


up to 150


Scholarship and Continuing Professional Development


up to 200


100 to 400


up to 100

Second, please check that your allocated work falls within these upper and lower bounds. If not, disagree and ask your School what will be done to reduce your workload, both in the ongoing year and in future years.

Third, check whether you have time allocated for scholarship and continuing professional development. If not, disagree and request this time.

Fourth, check whether your time allocated for teaching corresponds to the policy. Check whether all your modular and non-modular teaching (dissertation supervision, office hours) have been included, including time for teaching, preparation, and module co-ordination. If not, disagree and request this time. If you are expected to design any new teaching for the following academic year, time should be explicitly allocated for this: if not, disagree and request this time.

Fifth, check whether your time allocated under citizenship corresponds to the duties expected of you. If you are routinely expected to attend meetings (Boards of Studies, School Meetings, for example) or other events (open days, graduation), then there needs to be adequate time available both for other citizenship activities (as expected by the University’s Promotion Benchmarks), and to carry out routine academic duties (email, one’s own PDR, time- and diary-management, and the like). If this time is inadequate, disagree and request adequate time for these activities.

The Workload Allocation Model is designed to support the PDR process. Please refer to the Cardiff UCU guidance on PDR that you were sent recently: in particular, your PDR reviewer should ensure that you have enough time available to meet your agreed objectives (at your PDR meeting in the spring, you should therefore have a copy (in some cases provisional) of your workload for the following academic year). We advise you clearly to record all relevant issues related to your workload, including any over-allocations and requests for changes to your workload, on your PDR form. If the tariffs you are given do not accurately reflect the amount of time that the work actually takes, please also record this on your PDR forms, as these data will be used in revising the tariffs.

If you are in any doubt as to any of this advice, please consult Workload Modelling: Guidance Notes for Users (on the Intranet) for more detailed guidance, and if necessary please consult a UCU caseworker: to do this, please email and ask for a caseworker request form.

We will also be conducting surveys on workload allocation and PDR. Please provide us with feedback so that we can continue to work to make these processes supportive of staff.