Significant progress on fixed term contracts

Professor Nick Plant, DVC: Research and Innovation, outlines how our ambitious plans to significantly reduce the number of colleagues on fixed term contracts will reach a key milestone in April.

Professor Nick Plant updates everyone on our commitment to improve job security for those working on fixed term contracts

Ten months ago, we made a commitment to significantly reduce the number of colleagues working on fixed term contracts. A bold and ambitious move that will improve job security for many colleagues, this scheme is without precedent among research-intensive universities. It has been widely welcomed, by colleagues and the recognised campus trade unions.  

We started with those colleagues who had been on fixed term contracts the longest – undoubtedly the right thing to do. This has led to 511 staff already being transferred from fixed term to ongoing contracts.

That first phase also provided a valuable understanding of the complexities of our commitment, and the need to improve and adapt our policies and practices to support its delivery.

We undertook extensive feedback from key stakeholder groups, including from colleagues, managers, staff who could be affected and recognised campus trade unions, who were particularly supportive. Much of the feedback specifically related to the complexities associated with research and other grant-funded staff. 

Because of the nature of some of our activity and funding practices across the sector, we will continue to have roles that are time limited or have finite funding. In these cases, our commitment is to the individual, identifying follow-on opportunities for them to use their skills. We will not jeopardise our reputation for quality research, and neither will we expect people to accept roles that do not align with their aspirations. 

Our aim is to give people opportunities so they can make the right choice for themselves.

Going forward, our approach will be to transfer colleagues to an ongoing contract when they receive a further substantive contract after they have reached two years’ service. 

This reflects the typical three-year grant funding cycle, meaning those joining the University for their first grant-funded role would not automatically be offered ongoing contracts. They will, however, become eligible if their role is extended by at least six months or they receive a subsequent substantive role at the end of their first contract.  

We will continue to transfer eligible colleagues. We will contact individuals in April with further details about how this will happen. 

Our commitment to improve job security has been a complex one to deliver, but one that is sustainable, fair and equitable going forward.

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