Collective Agreement Regarding the Use of Fixed Term Contracts for Academic Staff

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1 Human Resources Team Human Resources Directorate Collective Agreement Regarding the Use of Fixed Term Contracts for Academic Staff Created: Author: Originating Directorate: Approved by: Date of approval: Effective date: Due for review: 1

2 Contents 1. Introduction Use of Fixed Term Contracts Management of Fixed-Term Contracts Monitoring Review/Renewal of Fixed-Term Contracts Non-Renewal of a Fixed-Term Contract Notification Consultation Appeal

3 1. Introduction The basic principle applied by this University would normally be to make academic appointments on the basis of permanent contracts. It recognises the responsibilities placed on it by the Fixed Term Employee (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002, and is committed to minimising the use of fixed term contracts. 2. Use of Fixed Term Contracts It is accepted that where practicable a permanent contract is preferable in the interests of both the University and the individual. However it is acknowledged that there are a number of circumstances where fixed term appointments would be more appropriate. In such cases there must be objective reasons for their use. Examples of objective reasons could include: The post is needed to cover staff absences (e.g. parental and adoptive leave, long-term sickness, sabbatical leave or secondment). Where there is no reasonably foreseeable prospect of external time-limited funding being renewed in the future. The continuing use of the fixed-term contract would need to be justified by objective reasons. The post requires a specific task to be addressed where it cannot be determined at the outset that this would prove to be permanent. Where the circumstances are such that it would be inappropriate to offer the job on a permanent basis as a matter of due diligence where an actual or potential redundancy scenario is known or can be reasonably foreseen. Other Substantial Reason Very exceptionally a Fixed Term Contract would be offered for some other reason not listed above, when it can clearly demonstrate and objectively justify the need for a Fixed Term Contract. The guidance on objective justification above will be reviewed in light of developing case law and legal thinking. UCU and the university retain the right to withdraw from this section upon giving one month s notice in writing until agreed revisions have been made that take such developments into account. For the avoidance of doubt, this policy and guidance does not constitute a collective agreement within the meaning of Regulation 8(5) of the Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations

4 3. Management of Fixed-Term Contracts Where staff are placed on a fixed-term contract in accordance with paragraph 2 they shall be treated no less favourably than comparable staff on permanent contracts. In particular, fixed-term staff will: Have equivalent terms and conditions of employment to colleagues on comparable permanent contracts including pay, absence provisions and pensions. Be provided with a suitable working environment. Have the same opportunity as other staff to access services to develop their career such as staff development, training, appraisal and careers advice. Be provided with information on, and the opportunity to apply for, permanent positions in the university. Be able to access university facilities such as libraries and intranet services. Have the right to participate in university governance and committees. On request, be provided with a written statement within 21 days explaining any differences in their employment arrangements from those of comparable permanent employees on a term by term basis. After 4 years service be provided with confirmation that the post is now permanent, except as provided below. On request, at any time, be provided with the objective justification for the post to be on a fixed-term basis. 4. Monitoring The University will provide the recognised Academic Union with the department, job category, start date and length of contract of all Fixed Term Appointments made under these guidelines. This information will normally be provided within one month of and under no circumstances later than three months, from the offer of appointment being made. This will include details of the reason(s) which justifies/justify the appointment being made on a fixed term basis should the recognised Academic Union request it in any specific case. 5. Review/Renewal of Fixed-Term Contracts It is the University s expectation that it will be very exceptional for employees to remain on fixed term contracts for periods exceeding four years. Each employee who has remained on a fixed term contract for this length of time will have their position reviewed to see whether there remain objective reasons, as set out above, for the continuation of the time limits on their appointment. If there are no objective reasons the employer will provide a written statement informing the employee that their contract will become permanent. If there are objective reasons, the employee will be notified of these in writing within one month of completing 4 years service on a fixed term contract. At the same time, the University will 4

5 provide (in writing) the recognised Academic Union with the department, job category, start date, length of contract, and objective reasons. 6. Non-Renewal of a Fixed-Term Contract The University recognises that the ending of a fixed term contract is a dismissal in law. In most cases the dismissal will constitute a redundancy. A redundancy situation may arise for a number of reasons such as: The work to which the contract refers is discontinuing. Exceptionally if the job is continuing, but has changed substantially so that the person in post is no longer able to fulfil the requirements of the role. The University by this document has given an undertaking to ensure that such a dismissal is fair by implementing an agreed redundancy consultation procedure. It is essential that this procedure is followed by all Faculties and Departments to make sure that Academic Staff on fixed term contracts employed by De Montfort University are treated fairly and in accordance with the law in dismissal circumstances. Whenever a fixed term contract is due to terminate, the employee will receive a letter in advance of the due date of termination of the fixed term period, to confirm this situation and/or discuss any possible alternative suitable vacancies. The employee will also have an opportunity to meet with their Head of School/Department to discuss the non renewal of the fixed term contract or discuss possible alternative employment. The University recognises that should such vacancies exist in suitable areas; any individual so affected will be given an interview. This however, must comply with any selection process in line with the Equal Opportunities Policy. The University is committed to consulting with the recognised Academic Union and with the individuals concerned about any possible redundancies. Any individual who is a member of the recognised Academic Union will have the right to be accompanied for this purpose by a representative of that union. 7. Notification The University will supply the recognised Academic Union with a list of all fixed-term posts, covered by this agreement, as soon as possible after the beginning of each academic term. 8. Consultation It is best practice for consultation to commence as soon as possible to allow both the individual and the university to seek alternative arrangements; in any event consultation should commence no later than 3 months before the termination of their fixed-term contract, with a view to determining whether or not an alternative fixed-term contract may be available for an extended period or whether a permanent contract may be available. The employee will have the right to bring a work colleague or Trade Union representative to any consultation meeting. 5

6 9. Appeal In the event of a fixed-term member of staff wishing to appeal against their termination of employment as outlined above, this should be done by writing to the Director of Human Resources within 7 days of receipt of the letter confirming the termination of their contract. The appeal hearing will be arranged as per the Disciplinary procedure for Academic/Teaching in Higher Education. Signed on behalf of the University:... Signed on behalf of the Trade Unions:... 6

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