Reporter 439, 27 September 1999




Statement of principles on the management of fixed-term contracts

(Updated 11 March 1999)


1. Introduction

1.1 This statement of principles aims to promote transparency and consistency in the management of fixed-term contract staff, and in the decision making processes through which it is determined which posts are permanent and which are fixed-term.

1.2 Whilst there will continue to be circumstances in which posts need to be fixed-term (see 2.3 below), the University is committed to processes which monitor the overall numbers of such contracts and ensure that they are used only where there are clear and explicit reasons.

2. Appointing to fixed-term posts

2.1 The University does not have a policy or rule which encourages staff to be appointed on a fixed-term basis in the first instance. All posts will be considered on their own merits.

2.2 In considering whether the post is to be fixed-term of permanent, a Resource Centre will consider all available information on anticipated staffing changes through planned retirements, promotions, changes in funding and income streams etc.

2.3 Posts may be established on a fixed-term basis in accordance with the following criteria:-

2.3.1 to cover specific absences, e.g. maternity leave, secondments, sickness, temporary, acting or other appointment etc.

2.3.2 where funding is available only to employ specific skills to carry out a specific piece of work.

2.3.3 to enable a Resource Centre to keep some element of flexibility in its staffing

arrangements so that it can react to future changes in its funding position and workload.

2.4 Before a post is advertised externally on a permanent basis, the Resource Centre should form a view on whether there is likely to be a sufficient range of candidates within the University and, therefore, whether there is a case for advertising the post on an internal only basis.

2.5 Where the funding source is reasonably predictable, e.g. through HEFCE, the University normally discourages the re-employment of staff on a series of fixed-term contracts. Staff who have been employed on a series of consecutive fixed-term contracts which amount in total to more than 5 years’ service will have their contract specifically reviewed by the HORC and the appropriate HR manager. A clear statement of the reasons for the post continuing on a fixed-term basis, if it is decided that it should, will be provided.

    1. The University is committed to pursuing redeployment opportunities wherever possible for fixed-term contract staff whose contracts cannot be extended or made permanent.

3. Annual Review

3.1 The Head of Resource Centre and the appropriate HR Manager will conduct an annual review of fixed-term contracts. The purpose of this review will be to ensure that there is a clear, explicit and transparent reason for a post being fixed-term rather than permanent. A pro-forma will be prepared to make this process as administratively efficient as possible. Fixed-term contract holders will be told the results of this review in respect of their own post.

3.2 A member of staff who wishes to ask for a review of a Resource Centre decision in respect of a fixed-term post may refer the matter to the Director of Human Resources, who may consult the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Staff and the Faculty Research and Teaching and Learning Deans as appropriate.

4. Joint Monitoring Arrangements

4.1 Joint management/trade union arrangements will be established to review practices concerning the employment of fixed-term staff across the University.

5. Performance Issues

5.1 Performance issues should be dealt with through the University’s probationary procedures and the established arrangements for managing performance, rather than through the mechanism of fixed-term contracts.

6. Information for Fixed-term Contract Staff

6.1 From the outset, fixed-term contract employees should be given clear, unambiguous information by their employing Department and the Human Resources Department about the nature of their contract and the timescale for its review.

6.2 The University is committed to implementing the Concordat on Contract Research Staff Career Management, particularly in respect of induction and regular staff review for work planning and career development planning purposes. It also wishes to establish more systematic career development arrangements for technical and other groups of staff.

6.3 The procedures that should be followed as fixed-term contracts move towards an end are set out as an appendix to this paper. These procedures emphasise the importance of promoting redeployment opportunities wherever possible. However, as much notice as possible should be given of a decision not to renew a contract.

7. New Terms of Employment Contract

The University will continue to develop alternatives to traditional forms of fixed term contract in order to create opportunities for greater employment security where that is possible.

8. Union Representation

8.1 In any discussions with his/her Head of Resource Centre/Head of Department about his/her post, a member of staff on a fixed-term contract may be accompanied by a friend or trade union representative.

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1 Four to six months before termination

1.1 The Resource Centre/Department should be considering the prospective possibilities when the contract comes to an end (viz. termination, extension of present contract, issue of new contract etc., such possibilities being governed by the availability of funds, the reasons for the appointment and departmental business needs).

1.2 If there is a decision to terminate, the Human Resources Office writes to the Union by way of consultation (in line with statutory requirements).

2 At least three months before contract ends

2.1 The Human Resources Office sends the appropriate re-appointment form to the resource centre/department, drawing to its attention the impending expiry.

2.2 The Head of Resource centre/Department or nominee interviews the individual to ascertain whether he/she wishes to remain in the University's employment on expiry of present contract, and is honest and explicit about the prospects.

2.3 The Head of Resource Centre/Department or nominee keeps a brief note of this and all subsequent meetings on this topic.

3 When the prospects of a further contract are poor or uncertain

3.1 The Head of Resource Centre/Department or nominee explains the reasons e.g. funds not available, project finished, cover no longer needed.

3.2 The Head of Resource Centre/Department or nominee checks whether the individual wants to be given information on other suitable vacancies in the University.

3.3 Where requested by the employee, the Head of Resource Centre/Department or nominee will ensure that all vacancies bulletins published by the Human Resources Office are seen by and available to the employee, and that the employee is made aware of the possibilities of advice and information from the Careers Service.

3.4 The Head of Resource Centre/Department or nominee also gives advice to the employee which may be helpful to him/her in career terms. Where training would be appropriate and feasible within the remainder of the contract which might help the individual in his/her search for another job, the head of the resource centre/department offers to facilitate this. (Note: Training for employability is an intrinsic element within the Review and Development Scheme for contract research staff, but should also be a management concern in relation to other categories of staff employed for a fixed-term.)

3.5 If a vacancy occurs in another department in which the individual is interested, and for which he/she appears to be qualified, the Head of Resource Centre/Department or nominee encourages the individual to make an application, without however suggesting that he/she will necessarily be appointed.

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3.6 The Head of Resource Centre/Department or nominee draws to the attention of the Human Resources Office the fact that the member of staff has applied for a vacancy in another department.

3.7 The Head of Resource Centre/Department or nominee has follow-up interviews with member of staff as appropriate

3.8 If no suitable alternative employment is available or secured, the contract expires on the due date and the individual is paid redundancy compensation if this is his/her entitlement.

4 Where it is possible to re-appoint

4.1 The Head of Resource Centre/Department needs to consider what the eventual redundancy liabilities will be for the resource centre. (These are cumulative and will include all previous continuous employment in the University or associated companies such as ULIS.)

4.2 The Head of Resource Centre/Department returns the appropriate completed form via DSU or RSU.

4.3 If a new contract with different duties is being offered the Head of Resource Centre/Department provides a new job description.

5 Whilst the Head of Resource Centre/Department may delegate some responsibilities as provided for in the appendix, it remains their responsibility to ensure that the overall spirit and intention of the steps described is adhered to.



11 March 1999



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