Human Resources

 Communication

1. Introduction

2. Publications, notices & the freedom of information publication scheme

3. Employee surveys

4. Suggestion scheme

5. Governors' meeting

6. Staff meetings

7. Trade union membership

8. The media

9. Responsibility

1. Introduction

This policy establishes the principles upon which open, effective and productive communication should take place within Birkbeck.

Whilst formal reporting lines are acknowledged, Birkbeck does not encourage hierarchical boundaries to communication. The Master and Senior Management team actively encourages all informal communications, problem solving groups and “management by walking around”.

However, many issues are of importance across broad areas or across the whole of Birkbeck.  Formal communication systems, therefore, exist to support, formalise and provide structure where it is needed.  All employees, agency staff, contractors and consultants engaged in work on behalf of Birkbeck, are positively encouraged to communicate with each other.

2. Publications, notices & the freedom of information publication scheme

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, every public authority is required to have a ‘publication scheme’, which details the information that is published in that organisation. The College’s publication scheme can be found in full at http://www.bbk.ac.uk/foi/index_html

The following is a summary of the publications, documentation, and facilities that are likely to be available (subject to changes and amendments) to staff to assist in the internal communication process:

- 'BBK' Magazine

- Internal Bulletins

- Health and Safety Policies & Safety Committee Minutes

- Committee Meeting Minutes

- Birkbeck Annual Report

- Calendar of Meetings (list of the formal College meetings and dates)

- Calendar Booklet

- Internal Telephone and Email Directory (hardcopy and web copy)

- Terms and Conditions of Employment

- HR website

- Notice Boards (physical and web-based)

- Staff Intranet Site

Further information concerning these publications and documentation are detailed below:

  • External Relations produces a magazine called BBK.  This contains information concerning current and future events taking place within the College and is distributed to all employees. Employees are invited to submit contributions for the magazine to the Editor of BBK.

  • Each School/Professional Service Department may publicise their own social activities, which will be posted on notice boards throughout the School/Professional Service Department.

  • Urgent and important announcements or news items will be issued in a Bulletin, as and when the need arises.  Bulletins will be prepared by the appropriate section.  Managers will ensure that the information contained within the Bulletin is communicated to all employees usually by e-mail as a matter of priority.  A copy of the Bulletin may also be displayed on the notice boards in the School or Professional Service Department, where relevant.  If employees wish to send an all staff bulletin about work related issues, they must first contact their School Manager/Director of Professional Service Department, as such e-mail bulletins can and should only be sent by certain authorised employees.

  • An annual report summarising the College’s main activities, news and important statistics over each academic year is produced by External Relations.

  • Health and Safety policies, and minutes of the Safety Committee meetings are available on the Safety Office’s website (http://www.bbk.ac.uk/so/) and amendments will be distributed as appropriate, providing updates and information to employees by e-mail on safe working practices, new legislation and on particular hazards in Birkbeck. 

  • The formal college calendar of meetings gives details of all college meetings that take place throughout the year and this can be found at http://intra.bbk.ac.uk/cal/index.html. This is produced by the College Secretary’s office.

  • The college Calendar booklet contains useful information for staff and students of the College.  The information may include term dates, details of committee members and Governors, general contact information, and more. The Calendar is produced by External Relations.

  • The Internal Telephone and Email directory is produced by Central Computer services (CCS).  This gives details of Birkbeck staff’s location, telephone number and email address.

  • Within the Staff Intranet employees have access to an electronic notice board. This notice board can be used for posting social and personal announcements such as requests for sponsorship for involvement in charity events or personal “For Sale” messages, as well as for College-related announcements. The notice board page can be found at www.bbk.ac.uk/staff/board (a CCS username and password is required to access this).

  • Details of employee’s terms and conditions of employment are contained in:

    • Their offer Letter issued at the start of employment;

    • Their Principal Statements of Terms and Conditions again issued when the employee commences work;

    • Staff Handbook/HR Policy Manual:

  • The HR Policy Manual contains all policies relating to individual’s employment with Birkbeck, a central copy is available in all Schools and Departments, or on the Birkbeck website.  The Human Resources team will publish amendments to policies as and when appropriate.

  • Papers of many of the formal College Committee meetings are held in the library and are available to all employees and students, except where they contain confidential material. Minutes and papers from the Library Policy Committee and the CCS Policy Committee are available on the College intranet.

  • Seminars will take place on an ad-hoc basis to introduce new initiatives or processes.

  • Notice Boards are placed in key positions in all working and rest areas.  In addition to in-house bulletins and statutory notices, employees may place appropriate notices on the board following authorisation from the Senior Management Team.  All notices must display a date that the notice is applicable from and an expiry date on which the notice must be removed.

  • The staff intranet site highlights key news items relevant for staff and provides links to appropriate internal and external web pages.

3. Employee surveys

Employee Consultation Surveys are  conducted at appropriate intervals in order to gain employee feedback on a broad range of current issues.

4. Suggestion scheme

Employees are encouraged to submit any suggestions on possible improvements or cost saving initiatives within the College that may be made. Suggestions may be emailed to, suggestions@bbk.ac.uk, or made in writing to their Human Resources Manager. Submitted suggestions will be reviewed each term by the Learning and Organisation Development Team within Human Resources, who will forward them to the appropriate person for consideration.

Suggestions will be implemented where possible/appropriate and communicated to all relevant employees.

5. Governors' meeting

Governor’s meeting(s) are held four times a year and employees are encouraged to give feedback to their staff governor to discuss during the meeting.  The names of the staff governors are available at http://www.bbk.ac.uk/bbk/governors.html, and the papers of the Governors’ meetings are held in the Library (except where they contain confidential and/or sensitive information).

6. Staff meetings

Regular management and departmental meetings will be held to discuss Birkbeck’s current position, future prospects and other issues connected with operational requirements.

The frequency and timetable for the meetings will be agreed within Schools/Professional Service Departments and teams. In addition School and Professional service Department meetings will take place on a termly basis.

For many meetings, an agenda may be produced in advance and employees are encouraged to submit items for discussion. Where appropriate, minutes of the meeting will be taken and circulated to all relevant persons noting all discussion points and actions agreed

7. Trade union membership

Membership of a union is a matter for individual decision and employees can join or not join any trade union they wish. However, for local conditions of employment Birkbeck recognises the following Unions as the sole negotiating body within for the following groups of staff:

UNISON for Clerical and Manual employees (www.bbk.ac.uk/unison)

UCU for Academic, Research and Academic related employees (www.bbk.ac.uk/ucu)

Unite for Craft and Technical employees (www.unitetheunion.org)

Names of the relevant Branch Secretaries are available from the Human Resources team.  Notice boards for Trade Union use can be found near the reception in Malet Street.

8. The media

8.1 Academic Media Coverage

It is recognised that many academic or research staff may be asked to give interviews or comment on their latest work in a variety of media. This media contact is encouraged to promote a positive image of the College. In order to monitor and maximise the effectiveness of this publicity, employees are requested to inform the Media and Publicity Officer, in External Relations of any such activity, in advance where possible, or as soon as is practicable after the event.

If contacted in advance of any events, External Relations can help and advise employees with working with the media in a number of ways. For example, in preparing material in sound-bite form, posture and body language, the most advantageous photographic locations for still or TV footage, and the use of Birkbeck logos etc.

External Relations can also:

  • Publicise media events to college staff, governors, students, and alumni

  • Keep statistics on the College’s achievement in terms of media coverage

  • Continue to develop the Directory of Experts, which will be an invaluable reference source for the media

  • Ensure there is no duplication of effort regarding issues, which might give rise to conflicts of interest

  • Advise on avoiding or tackling possible unfavourable or unwanted publicity

Staff are also requested to maximise the opportunities to mention and credit Birkbeck in their media contacts (e.g. in captions, by displaying the College logo etc). This can help to promote the College’s image and contribute to staff and student recruitment, fundraising, and developing our business links.

8.2 Other media publicity

To ensure a consistent message, and to avoid the potential for any negative publicity, the Director of External Relations or nominee is the only member of the College who should have contact and/or give interviews and information to the media on any College Policy matters or events (other than contact as set out in 8.1 above). Any employee contacted by a representative of the media about such issues should refer them to the Director of External Relations explaining that he/she personally is unable to comment.

Any incoming media communications relating to Birkbeck must be passed to the Director of External Relations. 

9. Responsibility

The Director of External Relations is responsible for all corporate media communications. 

All those persons referred to within this policy are required to be familiar with the terms of this policy. 

Individual managers are required to keep within the spirit and intent of the policy, as far as possible in their own area.  Any queries on the application or interpretation of this policy must be discussed with the Human Resources team prior to any action being taken.

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The HR team is based on the first floor of Egmont House
Postal address: Human Resources, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX
Email: humanresources@bbk.ac.uk; Fax: 020 7380 3172.