I am currently on a fixed term contract - will I be transferred to an ongoing contract?
- If you have over 2 years’ service (at 1st April 2023) and are on your second (or subsequent), substantive i.e., more than 6 months’ duration, contract with the University, with an end date on or after 1 October 2023 you will transfer to an ongoing contract in April, providing you are not in one of the very limited exceptions shown below.
- If you have over 2 years’ service (at 1st April 2023) and are on your second (or subsequent), substantive i.e., more than 6 months duration, contract with the University with an end date before 1 October 2023 you will transfer to an ongoing contract when you get a contract extension/alternative role of greater than 6 months duration (providing you are not one of the very limited exceptions shown below). You will be supported by your manager and HR during this time.
- Anyone on a second (or subsequent), substantive contract who reaches 2 years’ service during the period of transition (April to September) will be considered at that point.
- If you are on your first contract with the University and/or have less than 2 years’ service you will transfer to an ongoing contract when you receive a further substantive i.e. greater than 6 months, contract after the point you have 2 years’ service (providing you are not one of the very limited exceptions shown below).
What are the exceptions for transferring staff on fixed term to ongoing contracts?
Even if your role is still fixed term or has finite funding we will transfer you to an ongoing contract when you receive a further, substantive contract after the point you reach 2 years’ service, unless:
- Your contract is for an agreed, discrete placement, or a role that is solely for the purpose of providing training. Examples of these roles are KTP Fellows, Junior Doctors in training, apprenticeships.
- Where the conditions of an external body affect the contract we can offer. What this typically means in practice is that if you are planning to apply for a Fellowship you should talk to your Faculty Research and Innovation Office to explore the criteria for awards, as in a small number of cases the type of contract you are on may affect eligibility. If that is the case we will work with you to agree how we best support you without disadvantaging your application. We are continuing discussions with funding bodies to try and resolve this.
When will you get back in touch with me with further details?
We will be in touch with you after Easter. If you already have a second (or subsequent) substantive contract and over 2 years’ service, we will explain the next steps in transferring you to an ongoing contract. Whether or not you will be impacted immediately, we will also be offering briefing sessions so that you can find out more about the approach and how we intend to support all staff.
Why has there been a delay?
Initially we considered all staff on FTC/OEFF contracts with over 10 years' service (we called this phase 1) and started developing the policies and processes to support our new approach.
Having listened to staff who transferred in phase 1 and other key stakeholders, we took the decision to develop those policies and processes further before beginning the transfer of phase 2 staff (those on a further substantive contract with over 2 years’ service). This will help to avoid creating uncertainty around what the transfer will mean in practice for individuals.
We are well underway with the policy and process development and will transfer remaining eligible staff from April.
Will the delay affect my employment?
No, this delay will not affect your employment. If you are reaching the end of your current contract we are increasing the proactive support we provide to secure ongoing employment.
I need a visa to work in the UK. Will this affect my transfer to an ongoing contract?
Requiring a skilled worker visa does not preclude you from being transferred to an ongoing contract. However, as each case is individual we will discuss your own situation with you and agree whether any additional action is needed.
If you have a Global Talent visa no further action will be needed until the visa end date at which point we will discuss your situation with you.
If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain no further action will be needed.
What do you mean by an agreed underpinning Framework?
The underpinning framework is the policies, processes and practices that will allow us to implement our new approach effectively and consistently. It includes a revised fixed term contract policy, a new approach to workforce planning, an improved approach to redeployment, as well as ensuring that our process for redundancy is transparent and well governed.
Can I appeal against a decision not to make my contract ongoing?
We will transfer all staff in line with our agreed approach. If you feel that this has not happened in your case, please raise this with your local HR team.
If I am already on an open ended fixed funded contract, what will change for me?
As part of our commitment to reduce the use of fixed term contracts we are increasing the emphasis on proactive workforce planning and improving redeployment processes. We hope we will be able to identify new roles/activity earlier, and deploy you into follow on activity that uses your skills, avoiding the need to put you at risk of redundancy and reducing the number of formal meetings you need to have. We are also working to enhance access to personal and career development.
Will my notice period change if I am moved onto an ongoing contract?
If you are on a Grade 8 or 9 then your notice period will change from 3 months to 6 months when you are transferred onto an ongoing contract. This is in line with our agreed policy which sets out notice periods that differ according to staff category, contract type, and whether you are still on probation. Remember this is the notice that the University would need to give to you to end your employment as well as the notice you need to provide. You can find the policy for notice periods on the HR website. As is the case now, the University will always provide you with the full period of notice, but, whilst not guaranteed, there is often local discretion to enable you to agree a shorter notice period. If you have any concerns, please contact your local HR Manger/Officer in the first instance.
What is work force planning and how is it different to redeployment?
As an organisation we need to understand what skills we need both now, and in the future. Understanding the activity that's coming down the line and what skills are required will help us to identify at an earlier stage ongoing opportunities for staff whose current activity may be coming to an end. Typically workforce planning will look across a school or service at activity over the coming 12 month period and, for many staff, matching their skills to this activity will give them more and earlier certainty about their ongoing role. Redeployment allows people who are nearing the end of their current activity priority access to opportunities across the whole University, and this will continue to be available to eligible staff where needed. Staff on both fixed term and ongoing contracts can be considered through both workforce planning and redeployment.
Who will have access to redeployment?
Anyone who has 12 months service with the university is eligible for consideration through redeployment, regardless of whether they are on a fixed term or ongoing contract. All staff whose activity may end over the next 12 months will be considered as part of workforce planning discussions.
Will support be provided for the staff whose activity is coming to an end over the next few months?
Yes. As part of the change in how we use fixed term arrangements we are providing more proactive support to identify suitable follow-on opportunities where somebody's current activity may come to an end. This will be done both through workforce planning and by working more closely with each person to identify suitable opportunities through redeployment. Staff whose activity may end over the coming few months will have a named representative who will talk to them about what they are looking for, help them look for vacancies coming up via redeployment, and support them through the process, for example by proactively working with hiring managers on the individual's behalf to explore whether their skills might fit a post.
Will you be able to apply for a position on a higher grade through redeployment?
No, people cannot apply for higher grade roles through redeployment. We will be focussing on seeking suitable alternatives to someone's current role.
Could I be down-graded through redeployment?
We would not force someone to take a role at a lower grade through redeployment. If you are interested in a role at a lower grade we would discuss arrangements with you and, if you still wanted to be considered, you would have preferential access via redeployment.
What happens if I have specialist skills but there are no roles available that need them?
We want to work with you to identify and offer all roles that you could do, whether these are within your specialism or make use of your transferable skills. You can then make a choice whether to accept a role.
If I turn down a role will that affect my eligibility for redundancy pay?
If the work you are doing is ceasing and the University hasn’t offered you suitable alternative employment, you are entitled to a redundancy payment based on your length of service (as currently outlined in the procedure to support the employment security of staff on fixed funding and fixed term contracts). What constitutes suitable alternative employment is considered on an individual basis as it takes account of a number of factors such as how similar the offered job is to your current one, how it fits with your skills, circumstances, and career aspirations. We would always tell people whether turning a job down would affect their eligibility for redundancy pay at a point they could change their mind. However, it’s important to stress that the change to our use of fixed term contracts is not intended to make it harder for people to access redundancy payments; we want to offer people choices but it's not in an individual's or the University's interests to force people into roles that are not suitable for them.
Will part-time staff be treated the same as full-time staff?
Yes. Part-time staff will be considered in the same way as full-time staff.
Will redundancy payments change as part of the new approach?
Redundancy payments will remain equivalent to current arrangements. In this interim period these are outlined in the 'Procedure to support the employment security of staff on fixed funding and fixed term contracts'.
How is an ongoing contract different to a permanent contract?
There is no difference. In law, a permanent or ongoing contract is one that doesn't have a specified end date at the outset. We use the term 'ongoing' because, in the past, the sector has used 'permanent' in relation to specific tenured academic arrangements, which are not the arrangements we are using.
How will this approach apply if someone joins the University in a three year project role?
Our approach is to transfer staff to an ongoing contract when they receive a further substantive i.e. greater than six months, contract after the point they have two years service. So where someone joins the University in a three year fixed term project role they will be employed on a fixed term contract. They will transfer to an ongoing contract at the point they receive a further substantive contract.
Are you working with the campus trade unions and have they agreed to this new approach?
We have worked with campus Trade Unions throughout this process. This has been helpful as we have been able to benefit from their knowledge and views in what we have developed so far. Discussions are continuing with our Trade Union representatives throughout the transition period and policies will be agreed with them via our established routes.
Will my change in contract affect any future applications for Fellowships?
We are conscious some people will plan to apply for Fellowships, either now or in the future. The eligibility of each funding body is different and some may stipulate conditions related to contract type. We are continuing discussions with funding bodies about how we can align conditions with changing employment practice, however in the meantime you should contact your HR Manager and/or speak to your Head of School when you are considering applying so that we can discuss your individual circumstances, and work with Research Finance teams to explore the specific conditions of the Fellowship(s) / awarding bodies you plan to apply to. There are a number of ways that we can continue to support you without negatively impacting your eligibility to apply and discussing with us at the outset will allow us to agree the best way forward with you.