Skip to main content

CEP discussion paper

Unions, Performance-Related Pay and Procedural Justice: the Case of Classroom Teachers


Performance-related pay (PRP) and performance management (PM) are now a part of the organizational landscape that unions face in the UK’s public services. While PRP and PM threaten the scope of traditional union bargaining activities, they simultaneously offer a new role to unions as providers of ‘procedural justice services’ to both union members and employers. We explore the case of the introduction of these systems for classroom teachers in England and Wales as a means of testing this idea. Our survey evidence shows that classroom teachers experiencing the introduction of PRP have expressed a strong demand for such services from the teachers’ unions. Further, analysis of the PRP implementation process for classroom teachers indicates that the teachers’ unions have progressively assumed a ‘procedural justice role’ since its introduction. Union action in this regard has led to substantial modification over time of classroom teachers’ PRP and PM. These changes have addressed many of the concerns of teachers, have created a new institutional role for the relevant unions, and may permit the systems to avoid the operational difficulties they have experienced elsewhere in the UK’s public services.


Richard Belfield and David Marsden

November 2004     Paper Number CEPDP0660

Download PDF - Unions, Performance-Related Pay and Procedural Justice: the Case of Classroom Teachers

This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's programme.