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Termly contribution increment scheme for Unestablished Research staff.

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The April 2024 round will open on Monday 5 February 2024 and close on Friday 15 March 2024.
Institutions should send completed HR/37 forms to no later than 5 pm 15 March 2024. 

Awards approved, under the authority of the HR Committee, will be effective from 1 April 2024 and implemented in the April payroll.  

Following the closing date for submissions, institutions and individuals will be notified of the outcome directly by email in April 2024.


This scheme allows Heads of Institutions to reward research staff on the basis of outstandingly good work achieved by the member of staff in comparison with others of the same grade, for which some additional recompense is appropriate; or on the basis of the need to retain the specialist skills possessed by a particular member of staff who would otherwise be likely to seek a more highly paid appointment elsewhere where a recruitment incentive payment cannot be awarded.

Heads of Institutions or those supporting applications from members of their research staff, should provide robust detailed evidence to support each case.  The level of detail provided should reflect the number of increments being applied for.

The prompts below, whilst not exhaustive, are examples of the level of evidence required.

  • How is the performance outstanding when compared to what is expected of an RA/SRA and when compared to RAs/SRAs who receive one or two increments?
  • The grant value, duration and impact.
  • The contribution to the programme, is the applicant directing or supporting?
  • The responsibility involved with other institutions, above what is expected of a RA/SRA
  • The risks involved with not offering the requested number of increments.


We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the HEI sector and many research staff will have faced difficulties in carrying out their usual duties. We therefore welcome a voluntary statement detailing the impact on your current or future work.  Further information about this can be found as part of the application form.

Guiding Principles

Assessment of contribution made should be clearly related to University, School or Faculty/Department objectives and should recognise achievements and reward behaviours and activities likely to contribute to the future success of the University.

Judgements should be based demonstrably on objective evidence and, if appropriate, recognise teamwork.

Managers should ensure that they periodically review the contributions of all of their staff, in order to bring forward for consideration all cases that meet the criteria.

Criteria for assessing contribution must be applied fairly and consistently.

The Career Management Review for Research Staff whilst remaining a separate and independent mechanism for Research Staff development and performance review, could be used to inform the recognition and reward process.

The following more general principles must also be applied through the process in order to achieve fair and proper consideration of proposals:

Natural Justice

‘Natural Justice’ is defined as ‘due process of law’ or the ‘requirements of procedural fairness’. There are two principles:

  1. No person may be a judge of his/her own cause
  2. The person must have the opportunity to be ‘heard’ fairly

Accordingly, all persons involved in the procedure and in the consideration of proposals should be fully conversant with the guidance contained in this document. They should undertake their roles in a manner which is scrupulously fair in relation to proposals that have been submitted, whether or not the guidance makes explicit provision for all circumstances.

Fairness and declaration of interest

If any person involved in the preparation, presentation of documentation, or in the consideration of proposals has a personal interest that may affect the impartial consideration of proposals, or be perceived by others to do so, they should declare this to the person overseeing that part of the process. If that is the person who has declared an interest, s/he should be prepared to withdraw from the relevant section of the proceedings, handing over responsibility to another person for that item of business.

With regard to Committees, all members should be aware that:

  • a systematic approach in forming a view of a proposal is desirable
  • the process of evaluation is a collective activity and all decisions should be arrived at collectively. (If a member is unable to be present, he/she may provide a written statement of their view but such written views should be accorded less weight than those expressed in open discussion since written statements provided in absence cannot be challenged in committee)
  • If all members agree immediately on the same overall assessment, this can be accepted without discussion. Differences in individual members' evaluations should be discussed and a consensus reached. Detailed discussion will in most cases lead to collective agreement on the assessment

Equal opportunity

The University's statement of policy is as follows:

The University of Cambridge is committed in its pursuit of academic excellence to equality of opportunity and to a pro-active and inclusive approach to equality, which supports and encourages all under-represented groups, promotes an inclusive culture, and values diversity. This commitment is underpinned by the University's core values, expressed in its mission statement:

  • Freedom of thought and expression.
  • Freedom from discrimination.

The University is therefore committed to a policy and practice which require that, for students, admission to the University and progression within undergraduate and graduate studies will be determined only by personal merit and by performance. For staff, entry into employment with the University and progression within employment will be determined only by personal merit and by the application of criteria which are related to the duties and conditions of each particular post and the needs of the institution concerned.

Subject to statutory provisions no student, member of staff, applicant for admission as a member of staff, will be treated less favourably than another because of her or his belonging to a protected group.  This commitment applies to a former student, alumunus or alumna, or former employee where the alleged unlawful conduct arises out of and is closely connected to the former student’s or former staff member’s previous relationship with the University.

Protected groups are defined in the Equality Act 2010 as Sex, Gender Reassignment, Marriage or Civil Partnership, Pregnancy or Maternity, Race (including Ethnic or National Origin, Nationality or Colour), Disability, Sexual Orientation, Age, or Religion or Belief. The University respects all religious and philosophical beliefs, as well as the lack of religion or belief, and the right of all members of its community to discuss and debate these issues freely.

If any person admitted as a student or appointed as a member of staff considers that he or she is suffering from unlawful discrimination, harassment, or victimization in her or his admission, appointment, or progression through the University, because of belonging to any of the protected groups, he or she may make a complaint, which will be dealt with through the agreed procedures for complaints or grievances or the procedures for dealing with bullying and harassment, as appropriate.

The University will take active steps to promote good practice. In particular it will:

  1. Work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and victimization based on a protected characteristic, whether actual, perceptive, or associative.
  2. Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
  3. Foster good relations between persons who share a protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
  4. Subject its policies to continuous assessment in order to examine how they affect protected groups and to identify whether its policies help to achieve equality of opportunity for all these groups, or whether they have an adverse impact.
  5. Monitor the recruitment and progress of all students and staff, collecting and collating equalities information and data as required by law or for the furtherance of University equalities objectives.
  6. Promote an inclusive culture, good practice in teaching, learning, and assessment, and good management practice, through the development of codes of best practice, policies, and training.
  7. Take positive action wherever possible to support this policy and its aims.
  8. Publish this policy widely amongst staff and students, together with policy assessments, equality analysis and results of monitoring.

The Equal Opportunities Policy will be enacted through by the University's Equality Objectives, associated implementation plans, and the Combined Equality Scheme. The Combined Equality Scheme explains how the University will fulfil its statutory obligations in relation to equalities legislation.

It considers:

  • Governance and Policy Development, including relevant committees, compliance, equal pay, assessing the impact of policies and practices and reporting.
  • Developing and Implementing Best Practice.
  • Inclusive Practice for Students and Staff—including the University's Diversity Networks, Dignity@Work, and Dignity at Study procedures.
  • Promotion of Equality and Diversity, including relevant diversity events, training, and guidance.
  • Data and Information Provision, including appropriate monitoring and compliance reporting.

Progress against actions and objectives will be reported in the Equality and Diversity Annual Reviews and Data Reports.

The University will meet all statutory obligations under relevant legislation and, where appropriate, anticipate future legal requirements. This will be informed by:

  • The Equality Act (2010) and associated secondary legislation.
  • Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (2008).
  • The Racial and Religious Hatred Act (2006).
  • The Civil Partnership Act (2004).
  • The Gender Recognition Act (2004).
  • Criminal Justice Act (2003).
  • The Human Rights Act (1998).
  • The Protection from Harassment Act (1997).
  • Special Education Needs and Disability Act (2001).

In addition, this will be informed by the Codes of Practice or Guidance issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and other relevant bodies. These Codes are not legally binding (though they are admissible as evidence in Employment Tribunals) and the University supports them fully.

This policy will be amended as appropriate to meet the demands of future legislation.

This policy can be found in the University’s Statutes and Ordinance.

Disability and allowance for special circumstances

Consideration should be given to any special circumstances which may have resulted in a lack of opportunity for any applicant or group of applicants to perform to their full potential, e.g. disability and time away from work because of family responsibilities for bringing up children or caring for relatives or for illness. Initially, the case put forward should be assessed objectively and on the same basis as other applicants before considering whether it would be appropriate to make an allowance. Those making the decision must record whether or not an allowance was made and the reasons behind that decision, as well as indicating the exact nature of any allowance made. Further advice should be sought from the relevant HR Business Manager.

In the case of a member of staff who is known to have a disability, account should be taken of:

  1. the nature of their disability
  2. how they believe it has constrained performance
  3. and, if appropriate, the effectiveness of any adjustments to their workplace or employment arrangements in overcoming these problems

Full details of the University's Disability and Employment policy can be found on the web.

Confidentiality, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act, 2018 (DPA 2018)

Members of the Committees and University staff involved in the procedure should note that the process of consideration is confidential and that certain documentation in the guidance may not be disclosed to applicants or other persons who are not members of Committees or otherwise appropriately involved in the process.

The University's policy in relation to The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act, 2018 (DPA 2018), is to respect confidentiality of information provided by referees in so far as this is compatible with the requirements of the Act and other relevant legislation.

Procedural adjustments and interpretation of guidance

The Chair of the Human Resources Committee shall have authority, on behalf of the General Board and Council, to make any reasonable change or adjustment to the procedure, interpret aspects of the guidance mentioned in the document where doubt arises as to its meaning, or take other action that may be necessary to ensure the fair and efficient management of this and any subsequent promotions exercise.


All un-established research staff apart from:

  • Researchers who have transferred to the University under TUPE and who have not harmonised to the University's terms and conditions. These individuals will follow the progression applicable to the employer from which they have transferred. Therefore, the previous employer should be consulted on any schemes for recognising outstanding contribution.
  • Clinical researchers: progression for clinical researchers should be in line with the NHS scales where there are no contribution schemes.
  • Researchers will not be eligible to apply for contribution increments in respect of their substantive position whilst on secondment. They may, however, be eligible in respect of their seconded position if they meet the relevant eligibility criteria, but will return to the grade and scale point of their substantive position on completion of the secondment.
  • Researchers who have left, or are due to leave the University, at the point the award is paid.


Up to 3 contribution increments may be awarded to an individual in any twelve month period, provided that the value of the individual's basic salary and contribution increments does not exceed the value of the top contribution point of the relevant grade. Retrospective awards may be made for the previous term only.

Financial Matters

For pre FEC (Full Economic Costing) grants arrangements for cash limiting of Research Council grants does not include any contingency provision for contribution increments. Therefore, if any contribution increments are recommended for staff supported from Research Council grants, the cost will have to be met either within the salary provision already available for the grant or by transfer of the required amount from other headings. Funds transferred into the salary heading must carry the appropriate indirect cost charge. This does not apply to FEC grants as they are unaffected by virement for staff costs.


Heads of Institutions are notified in writing by the HR Division each term of due dates for submissions. They will be required to cascade this reminder to all relevant staff within their Institution.

Heads of Institution may send their nominations as an e-mail attachment and may authorise a recognised representative to make nominations in their absence.


  1. Once a term, HR distributes scheme details to Heads of Institutions and provides the deadline for applications for the next termly exercise.
  2. Institutions submit cases for consideration to by completing form HR/37.
  3. The Reward Team on behalf of the HR Committee agrees outcomes.
  4. Following the closing date for submissions, HR implement awards for the appropriate payroll month. The implementation dates for increments awarded are 1 January, 1 April and 1 October.
  5. Institutions and individuals are notified directly via email by HR whether their application has been successful or not, before pay day in the month of the award.

Reference documents/forms