Skip navigation to content

Grading review policy and procedure

  1. Policy statement
  2. Overview and scope
  3. Grading Review and Workforce Planning
  4. Principles
  5. Grading review process
  6. Possible outcomes and effective date of regrading
  7. Appeals
  8. Appendices


Policy statement

This policy reflects the University’s commitment to reward members of staff in a fair, equitable and consistent manner for the work they are required to undertake, and ensures that the principles of equal pay for work of equal value are being implemented.   

Overview and scope

The University recognises that, due to business/institutional needs and requirements, roles can change in terms of demand, responsibility, accountability and complexity.  This policy therefore provides a mechanism whereby, following a substantive change in role requirements, the grading of a post can be reviewed. 

Grading Review and Workforce Planning

As part of the ongoing review of structures and staffing within the University, all Schools/Units will be required to inform the Principal’s Office of proposed staffing changes, including where duties are being moved from one person to another, and where the redistribution may have an impact on grade.  Such notification must be given in advance of any permanent change to a role. 

As part of the annual planning cycle, all Heads will be asked to inform the Principal’s Office of any proposed restructuring within the School/Unit and the implications, if any, this will have on current staff in relation to the duties that they undertake.  Along with this, Heads will be asked to confirm any staffing changes that they are aware of as a result of leavers/retirements.

It is accepted that, from time to time, structures may change out with this cycle as a result of staff leaving or areas of responsibility within the School/Unit changing.  In these circumstances, approval for any proposed restructuring/changes to staff duties, which may result in regrading, must be agreed with the relevant member of the Principal’s Office before any change takes place.

As currently happens, a staff replacement/new post or extension should be submitted to the Workforce Planning Group.

The Grading Review Policy and Procedure applies to all roles in pay grades 1 to 8, with the exception of academic, research and teaching staff considering promotion to grades 7, 8 or 9 who have access to a separate Academic Promotions Procedure.  Please note that grading review procedures for all roles are underpinned by the University’s chosen job evaluation scheme, Higher Education Role Analysis (HERA).    

This policy has been written in consultation with and agreed by the University’s recognised trades unions, UCU, UNISON and UNITE.


The grading review process enables roles to be evaluated objectively using the HERA methodology to establish whether role changes (i.e. changes to duties, responsibilities, the requirement to attain new/additional skills and competencies etc) impact upon the current grading of the post.   The process is not about rewarding or evaluating the performance of an individual within a role. 

A request for a grading review may be initiated by the individual undertaking the role (or group of individuals doing directly comparable work) or the Line Manager / Head of School/Unit.  

Role changes should be in line with strategic plans and objectives - the Head of School/Unit will be asked to comment on this in a separate form (see Stage 1 below).  

Please note:

  • A grading review request must be based on significant and permanent changes to the role.  For temporary changes to roles e.g. to cover maternity leave, long-term sickness etc please contact an HR Officer for advice.   
  • A request for a grading review should not be based on how the responsibilities or activities might or will change in the future. 
  • New appointees to a role should usually have been in post for at least 12 months prior to seeking a review of their grading.
  • Role changes experienced by staff who have been in post for some time should usually be given 6-12 months to bed down prior to submitting a grading review application in order that their full impact on the role can be accurately assessed. 
  • Roles will only be reviewed once in any 12 month period unless there are exceptional circumstances.  Please contact 1650 for advice.
  • An increase in volume of work will not necessarily result in an increase in job size sufficient to merit a change in grade.  Evidence would need to be provided that this increase in volume has resulted in a significant increase in responsibility/accountability.
  • Where operational changes/restructuring could result in a role being downgraded, the Head of School/Unit must consult with and seek the necessary guidance from Human Resources before any changes are implemented and the grading review process is initiated.  Please contact 1650 for advice.
  • If a grading review request has been unsuccessful, any subsequent review requests must be based on new role information. 
  • It is expected that any disagreements relating to the requirements/demands of the role will be resolved at a local level (with input from Human Resources as necessary).

Applications for grading review can be submitted at any time, but they are acted upon only on a monthly basis (at the end of the last working day of each month).  Any grading review application which is received out with the submission deadline will be processed in the next month - no exceptions will be made.

This policy will be subject to future reviews in consultation with the University’s recognised trade unions.  

Grading review process

Stage 1: Completion / submission of documentation

The Role Holder and/or Line Manager should discuss their intention to submit a grading review application with the Head of School/Unit in the first instance. 

Heads of Schools/Units will be expected to have discussed, in advance, with the Principal’s Office any reassignments of roles that might lead eventually to a regrading request.  A regular opportunity for doing so will be provided in the planning cycle. 

At least one month before a grading review application is submitted, the Head should complete the Head of School and Unit Comments Form (Word, 71 KB) and submit it along with an up-to-date School/Unit organisational chart to for review by the Workforce Planning Group (WPG). This Group comprises senior members of the Principal’s Office and the Director of Human Resources, and its role in relation to the grading review process is to ensure that changes in duties of the workforce are being strategically planned and co-ordinated.  In particular, the WPG will check that any role changes within a School/Unit have previously been part of a planning discussion and any issues/concerns that arise at this stage relating to potential grading changes within a School/Unit will be discussed with the appropriate Head. 

Once the Head of School/Unit’s form has been reviewed by the WPG, the Role Holder may submit a grading review application consisting of a new or amended (ROD) or Record of Evidence (ROE). 

Where an ROD or ROE currently exists for a role, the change/s in duties and responsibilities that have taken place since the role was initially analysed should be detailed in this original document (this includes scoring through/marking any activities which are no longer a requirement of the role).  Changes/additions must be clearly marked i.e. highlighted, different coloured/emboldened text etc. The ‘Main Purpose of the Role’ section must also be updated to reflect the changes to the role, and the verification section at the end of the form completed and signed.  If the role holder does not possess an ROD/ROE for the role or it is difficult to incorporate the changes to the role in the original document, please contact Human Resources ( 1650).     

Where no ROD/ROE exists for a role, the role holder is asked to complete, in full, a as part of the review process. 

The ROD/ROE should be electronically submitted by 5pm on the last day of the month to  Heads of Schools/Units should also submit their Comments Form and an organisation chart to this address.  All forms should be signed, either using an electronic signature or signed and scanned. If using an electronic signature, the forms must be submitted from the personal University email account of the signatory (ie not generic Head of School/Director email accounts). 

Whilst electronically completed documents are preferred, papers can also be handwritten as long as they are legible and are completed in black ink.  Handwritten forms should be signed by the Role Holder, line manager and Head of School/Unit and sent to the HERA Team, Human Resources, Old Burgh School by 5pm on the last working day of the month. 

It is the Role Holder’s responsibility to ensure that all documentation is submitted on time. Incomplete or late applications will be held over until the next submission deadline ie a month hence.  

It is expected that role holders will submit their completed ROD/ROE within 6 months of the Workforce Planning Group confirming permission to proceed otherwise a further application to the group from the Head of School/Unit will normally be required.  Role holders who have not submitted their form within 4 months will be sent one reminder from Human Resources regarding completing their application.

Stage 2: Grading review

Grading review submissions will be subject to review by a panel comprising at least 2 Role Analysts and a representative from the appropriate trade union. (All members of staff involved in role analysis are fully trained in the application of HERA and the grading review process).

At this stage, further information/clarification may be sought from the Role Holder/Line Manager.  

Stage 3: Notification of outcome

Where possible, the outcome of the grading review application will be communicated, in writing, to the Role Holder (with copy to the Line Manager and Head of School/Unit) within 3 months of the last date of the month in which it was submitted eg for a submission made during the month of June, the result will be communicated by 30th September. 

All applicants will receive an updated job description based on the ‘Main Duties’ section of their application. 

The Workforce Planning Group and the appropriate trade union will also be notified of all decisions reached by the Grading Review Panel.  

Possible outcomes and effective date of regrading

The outcome of the grading review request may lead to:

  • The role being ‘green-circled’ i.e. it has been established that the current grade for the role is too low.  In such circumstances the salary for the role will be uplifted to the minimum pay point of the new grade assigned via the grading review process.  The effective date of the salary uplift will be from the day following the applicable submission deadline ie the first day of the month following submission.  
  • The role being ‘red-circled’ i.e. the current grade for the role is too high.   In the minority of cases the University’s agreed red-circle policy will be applied (see Appendix II).  Where the red-circle policy is implemented it will be done so with effect from the day following the applicable submission deadline.
  • The role being evaluated at the same grade. In such circumstances there will be no change to the grade/salary of the role. 

Where the grading of a role has changed as a result of this process, due consideration will be given to the grading of any identical roles elsewhere in the School/Unit. 


Appeals must be based on procedural grounds only.  Should the role holder believe that there has been a breach in the grading review procedures, as outlined above, they can raise an appeal against the grading decision. 

Please note that an appeal cannot be raised on the grounds that the role holder disagrees or is not satisfied with the outcome of the review process. Also, should the responsibilities/demands of the role have changed following the submission of a grading review request, this information will be considered at a future grading review round, not via the appeals process.  

Appeal process

  • Notification that an appeal is being brought must be submitted, in writing, to Mairi Stewart, Director of Human Resources, within 10 working days of the date specified on the grading review outcome letter.  
  • Once notification of the appeal is received, an Appeal Form will be issued to the appellant for completion. The appellant will be asked to state the grounds on which the appeal is being made and provide information to support this.  The Appeal Form must be completed and returned to the Director of Human Resources within 15 working days of date of issue. 
  • Normally within 15 working days of receipt of the completed Appeal Form, an Appeal Panel will be convened.  The Panel will comprise an executive member of the Office of the Principal (Chair), a Head of School/Unit (unconnected with the appellant) and a representative of the appropriate trade union, none of whom will have been involved in the evaluation of the post. 
  • In considering the appeal, the Appeal Panel will review the written submission from the appellant, and may request further/supplementary information from the appellant and/or the Grading Review Panel.  The Appeal Panel may also request relevant parties to attend a hearing.  (Appellants have the right to be accompanied by a representative of the appropriate trade union or a work colleague, and may request to appear before the Appeal Panel).  The Appeal Panel may also allow adjournments of the hearing if further information is required.
  • The Appeal Panel cannot alter the grade assigned, but it can refer the post back for re-evaluation by another freshly constituted Grading Review Panel, chaired by the Director of Human Resources, if it considers that the process leading to the grading of the post has been flawed and, as such, may have impacted upon the grading of the post.
  • The Appeal Panel’s decision will be made by its members with its Chair exercising, if necessary, a casting vote. 
  • The Panel will write to the appellant within 7 working days of the final meeting to advise them of the outcome of the appeal.  

The decision taken by the Appeal Panel and any second Grading Review Panel will be final.