News from Europe

New document reveals strategies used to get rid of Christian Union Student Workers

A document called "Legalities of leavers" created by ‘The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship’ outlines methods of terminating employment of Christian Union Student Workers without breaking the law.

The document identified that resignation and dismissal are the two methods to end a contact of employment. It also admitted that none of their reasons for discharge conform to objective reasons for dismissal according to employment law; therefore their preferred way was for employees to resign. They wanted Union Students to leave within 3-5 years of being employed because they would run out of ideas and energy. 

The document states: “These reasons have two motivations behind them- we don’t want CUs to be under resourced, we don’t want staff to get stuck in a rut- it’s not good for either party. What we need to be leading staff to is termination by mutual consent (unless our staff hand in their resignation off their own backs- then we don’t have to worry about legalities. What we need to work on is how we phrase our language with staff in such a way that these resignations are mutual by consent, rather than being seen as constructive dismissal.”

In case a Union Student was reluctant to leave after five years they would want to ideally convince the them it is beneficial for both parties to leave the charity. If the worker agreed, then it would technically count as resignation by mutual consent. It highlighted the importance of making the workers feel like they have a choice.

The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship has minimised the significance of the document and claims it does not reflect how the organisation currently operates; even though an investigation found serious breaches of HR malpractice in 2023.

On the 27th February this year, the charity announced its national director Richard Cunningham had stepped down after 20 years in his role. This was a result of many months of public dispute and the board of trustees suspending Cunningham and field director Tim Rudge in December 2022, pending an investigation. An employment solicitor concluded that the charity poorly dealt with the termination of some staff contracts and been potentially unlawful at times. Despite all this, both Cunningham and Rudge were re-instated at the time. 

Katie Norouzi, a former employee went public this Monday and revealed the organisation’s unfair and intimidating resignation procedure: “My world came crashing down. I was presented with the senior leader’s thoughts on my performance. He questioned my abilities as a staff worker, whether my personality fitted the post and ultimately whether I was able to help students make Jesus known in the context I was working in. He tried to convince me that it was best for everyone for me to leave at the end of the year. Although I am aware that UCCF have made broad apologies, I have received no personal apologies from directors for being forced out of my job and the impact that this had on me during my final year on staff and beyond.”


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