University Fixed-Term Contract (FTC) Guidelines and Criteria
1.1. The University has agreed a set of criteria to regulate the use of FTCs at all stages, which are based on sector-wide guidance. These guidelines and criteria have been developed in consultation with Campus Unions and were implemented with effect from 1 November 2004. With effect from that date:
- new FTCs may only be used where they can be objectively justified by one or more of the five criteria set out below at section 2.
- renewal and extension of existing FTCs may only take place where one or more of the criteria at Section 2 is fulfilled.
- a review of contractual status will take place at the first renewal point after a member of staff has accrued 4 years’ service through the use of successive fixed term contracts. The purpose of this review will be to consider whether the continuation of a fixed term contract remains justified or whether transfer to an open ended contract is appropriate, (this became a legal requirement from 1 July 2006), and a more rigorous set of objective criteria will be applied. This is covered in more detail at Section 5.
1.2. It is the aim of these guidelines to provide an effective route for departments to make recommendations on where it is appropriate to use FTCs and where it is possible and appropriate to move staff from FTCs onto open-ended contracts, through a transparent and well managed process.
1.3. Contract research staff should also refer to the Concordat to Provide a Framework for the Career Management of Contract Research Staff in Universities and Colleges.
2. Justifying the use of FTCs at the University
2.1. There are only certain circumstances when it is appropriate to employ staff on FTCs. There are also legal requirements to consider to ensure that staff who are employed on FTC are not treated less favourably than those with open-ended contracts. This is set out in the Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 (´The Regulations`). In response to this legislation the University has developed Guidelines and Criteria for the use of Fixed Term Contracts, which should be read in conjunction with these pages.
As a general rule staff within the University will be employed through open-ended contracts unless there is a legitimate reason why a FTC should be used instead. The appointment of staff onto a FTC must therefore be objectively justified using one or more of the five criteria described below.
2.2. The University has adopted the following five criteria (based upon those agreed by JNCHES in June 2002, as set out in the JNCHES Fixed Term and Casual Employment Guidance for HE Institutions, but adapted to ensure compliance with University working practices and procedures), to govern the appointment, extension and renewal of FTCs for staff with up to 4 years continuous service:
- the post requires specialist expertise or recent experience, or input from specialist practitioners, in the short-term that is not already available within the institution.
- to cover staff absence as appropriate, such as maternity and adoption leave, long-term sickness, sabbatical leave etc.
- the contract is to provide cover for secondments or career development opportunities.
- where the student or other business demand can be clearly demonstrated as particularly uncertain, over and above that of generally accepted fluctuations over time.
- where the post is funded by a temporary funding source* for which a date has been identified when, with significant certainty, it is believed that the funding will cease.
* Temporary funding for the purpose of applying these guidelines includes the continuation of funding from bodies such as the Research Councils, time-limited earmarked HEFCE funding (unless rolled into HEFCE Block Recurrent Grant), fellowships and endowments (except where renewal of the same post-holder is proposed). In order to qualify as temporary funding a confirmed end date must be contractually identified.
2.3. Where posts are funded by HEFCE Block Recurrent Grants or by overheads from Research Council funding the use of a FTC may not be justified on the basis of funding.
2.4. The same criteria will be applied in assessing request to extend or renew FTCs unless the member of staff has four years´ continuous service in which they will be subject to a 4 Year Review (see section 5).
2.5. At any stage during a member of staff´s employment on a FTC the circumstances may change so that the objective justification is no longer valid, in which case the department may request that the contract be made open ended. This does not have to wait until the current contract is due to expire. Applications to transfer staff onto open-ended contracts should be made using form HUR/CC.
2.6. If a department feels that a FTC is still appropriate, even when none of the five criteria apply then advice should be sought from Human Resources who will provide a judgement.
3. Initial Appointment to a FTC
3.1. Where one or more of the criteria above is met then appointment to either an open ended or FTC can be recommended, subject to appropriate approval, through the job requisition process in e-Recruitment. Please contact your department recruiter who will process this on your behalf.
3.2. Where none of the five criteria can be met then appointment to an open-ended contract will generally be recommended. However, if a department feels that the use of a FTC can be justified on other grounds then advice should be sought from Human Resources, who will provide guidance on what form of contract is appropriate.
4. Renewal or Extension of a FTC
4.1. Requests to extend or renew a FTC for a member of staff with less than 4 years´ continuous service will be judged against the five criteria set out above. It is recognised that during the employment period the circumstances which made the use of a FTC appropriate may change. Therefore the criteria used to justify a renewal or extension may be different from that used at the initial appointment. Similarly, the circumstances may change so that the continued use of a FTC becomes inappropriate or it becomes possible to make the post permanent, and a department may request at any time that an open ended contract be issued instead. Such requests should be submitted as a contract change request within e-Recruitment. Please contact your department recruiter who will process this on your behalf.
5. Four Year Review
5.1. All staff with four or more years´ continuous service on successive FTCs must be considered for transfer onto an open ended contract. It may still be possible for a FTC to be extended or renewed beyond four years, but the criteria against which such requests are judged are more tightly defined.
5.2. Requests to extend or renew an FTC where the member of staff has 4 or more years continuous service will only be approved where one or more of the following criteria are met:
- The post is externally funded with significant certainty that the funds will cease in the foreseeable future, and no other funds are available.
- There is significant certainty that the work being undertaken will cease in the foreseeable future, and no alternative similar work is likely to be available.
- A permanent member of staff will be returning to the post at a date in the foreseeable future.
The application of these more rigorous criteria rule out the use of FTCs to cover periods of staff absence, to provide specialist skills in the short term or due to uncertain business demand. It is anticipated therefore that in the majority of cases, FTCs will only be permitted beyond 4 years in circumstances where the work being done will cease at a date which is known, or the work is dependent on external funds which are due to end and will not be extended or replaced from other sources.
5.3. The review need not be conducted immediately on acquiring four years´ continuous service but should be performed at each request to extend or renew a FTC thereafter. It may still be possible for a FTC to be extended or renewed beyond four years, but the criteria against which such requests are judged are more tightly defined.
6. Requests for a written statement under The Regulations
6.1. Under The Regulations staff employed on FTCs have the right to request confirmation that they have been transferred onto an open-ended contract or a written explanation as to why not. This must be provided by the Head of Department within 21 days of receiving a written request. Heads of Departments should consult with their customary HR Adviser before providing a response.
6.2. As set out above a member of staff may request a written statement under The Regulations in the following circumstances:
- to justify less favourable treatment;
- where 4 years’ service has been accrued, to confirm open-ended status or
- to justify the continuation of a FTC (with effect from 1 July 2006).
6.3. Requests under The Regulations should be made in writing, dated, and sent to the Head of Department, copied to Human Resources.
6.4. The Head of Department shall be responsible for providing the written statement and should consult immediately with Human Resources for assistance in preparing this response.
7. Guiding Principles of Application
7.1. When assessing appointment and renewals against the criteria, care should be exercised to avoid the application of the criteria in such a way to affect one gender or a particular group detrimentally, since this could amount to unlawful indirect discrimination.
7.2. All appointment procedures to FTCs should follow the same process as all other appointments, in terms of maintaining quality, standards and equality of opportunity.
7.3. Where transfer to an open-ended contract is recommended all other University procedures, including approval mechanisms and equality of opportunity, should be adhered to.
7.4. All issues of performance or quality that arise during the duration of a FTC should be addressed in the same way as for all other staff and in accordance with agreed University practice and procedures.
7.5. FTCs should not be used for performance management purposes or to achieve staffing flexibility that is not based upon the criteria set out above.
7.6. The guidance provided on the use of funding type as a basis for the use or continuation of FTCs should be closely adhered to.
8. FTC Expiry and Consultation Procedure
8.1. All departments employing staff on FTCs will be required to participate in the FTC Consultation Procedure to ensure that the University complies with its contractual notice periods and external legislation governing dismissals (e.g. redundancy) and the use of FTCs. The procedure is managed by Human Resources, but depends for its success upon input the timely responses from departments. In addition departments must carry out a process of individual consultation with their FTC staff to ensure they are fully informed of developments surrounding the future of their contract, and where applicable, the potential for redundancy.
a. On a monthly basis departments will receive Form A - Departmental FTC Monitoring Form. This will identify those staff who are FTCs which are due to expire within the next five months. The form should be completed by departments to indicate the future intention for each individual´s contract.
b. On receipt of the Form A the Head of Department (or delegate) should consider whether each individual´s contract should be extended, come to an end or be transferred to open-ended. In line with current legislation individual consultation should begin with all staff whose contracts have the potential to expire. Details of the 3-stage individual consultation process are set out below in 8.2.
c. Form A should be completed along with the Form B - Request to Extend Staff on FTC (if appropriate). The codes to be used for completion can be found in the Form A and B Guidance Notes. Form A should be competed and returned to the Department of Human Resources within 10 days of receipt. Form B should be completed in triplicate and distributed as follows:
- Finance for funding approval
- Human Resources
- Retained in departmental records
d. Finance will send approved forms to Human Resources.
e. On receipt of Form A Human Resources will carry out the appropriate activity:
- In cases where it has been confirmed that further funding is not available, check that the legal requirements regarding dismissal for reason of redundancy have been complied with, contact the relevant individuals, in writing, with notification of the expiry of their FTC, inform them of the University's Redeployment and Redundancy Policies and take the necessary administrative action to ensure that payment/employment ceases on the specified date. Depending on the option selected by the individual, Personnel Services will contact them with further details.
- In cases where no funding has been confirmed but attempts to secure additional funding are continuing, contact the relevant individuals alerting them to the possibility that their FTC may expire and that they are formally at risk of redundancy and inform them of the University's Redeployment and Redundancy Policies.
- Where funding has been confirmed by the funding body, await receipt of the Form B from Finance, check that the continuation of the contract on a fixed term basis may be objectively justified and extend the contract as instructed.
In the absence of an authorised Form A and/or Form Bs, all individuals whose contracts are due to expire within three months will be notified that further information is being sought by Human Resources and that they are formally at risk of redundancy.
Please note that late submission of Form As and Form Bs may result in individuals being incorrectly notified that their contract will expire or individuals being excluded from the payroll.
8.2. Individual consultation
Individual consultation must begin for all staff who appear on the Form A, regardless of the expected outcome.
Four months prior to expiry of an FTC, the Head of Department or delegate should write to the individual to invite them to a meeting to discuss their FTC. The individual should be informed that they are entitled to be accompanied to the meeting by a trade union representative or work colleague.
During the meeting the individual must be informed of the following (as appropriate):
- that they are formally at risk of redundancy should the FTC not be extended and provide confirmation of the contract end date
- whether an extension or extra funding is available/being sought
- the reasons why further work/funding is not available
- whether any alternative work is available within the department
- details of the University’s Redeployment and Redundancy Policies
- their right of appeal (required by legislation)
For staff whose contract will or is likely to expire, a record of the meeting should be taken using Form FTC/Consult.
In the event that the individual should exercise their right to request a written statement to justify less favourable treatment or to justify non-transfer to an open-ended contract, or decides to appeal against dismissal by redundancy, this record will be required. A copy of this document should also be sent to Human Resources alongside the Form A.
Individuals whose contract will not be extended must be informed that they have a right of appeal against the decision. Appeals against redundancy should be made to the Director of Human Resources.
9. Legislative Background
9.1. The Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 (`The Regulations´) came into force on 1 October 2002. The Regulations set out that fixed-term employees should not be treated less favourably than comparable permanent employees on the grounds they are fixed-term employees, unless this can be objectively justified.
9.2. The Regulations set out the following:
- the University is required to provide on request, a written statement, within 21 days, setting out the reasons for less favourable treatment if a member of staff believes that this may have occurred.
- all FTCs renewed or extended with more than 4 years service, from 1 July 2002, need to be justified, or transfer to an open-ended contract shall automatically take place.* The University is required under The Regulations to provide on request a written statement, within 21 days, either confirming that a FTC has become open-ended or if not, the reasons why it has not.
- the use of FTCs may only be justified in law where they are being used to achieve a legitimate business objective, where it is necessary to achieve that objective and where it is an appropriate way to achieve that objective.
(*The acquiring of 4 years service through successive use of FTCs shall not be regarded as an acceptable reason for the termination of employment.)
These guidelines and criteria have been agreed with the University Campus Unions. Human resources will be responsible for keeping these guidelines under constant review to ensure their continued legal compliance and effective implementation.
Last Update: 03/13
Date of Next Review: 12/13