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Human Resources

Fixed Term Contracts

Policy and Guidance Notes

Management of Staff on Fixed Term Contracts (FTCs)

Note: This policy applies to all grades of staff with a fixed term contract of employment.


  • Staff on FTCs will receive the same terms and conditions of service as comparable non fixed term staff.
  • Staff on FTCs should be afforded the same career development opportunities as non fixed term staff.
  • All staff with 4 years’ service or more, on successive FTCs, should be considered for conversion to non FTC status; if this is not possible objective justification should be given.
  • Unless there are exceptional circumstances, no one should be employed for more than 6 years on successive fixed term contracts.
  • The University should adopt a robust consultation and redeployment policy should external funding expire.
  • Where staff convert to non FTCs and remain dependent on external funding, it should be noted that if that funding expires, and all other options have been exhausted, their contracts may be terminated by reason of redundancy.
  • Where staff remain dependent on external funding, the source and duration of funding supporting their employment should be made explicit at the outset of the contract and/or re-appointment.

Continued Use of FTCs

  • Before any post is advertised consideration must be given to determine whether a FTC or non FTC would be appropriate.
  • Appointments on a fixed-term basis may be justified in the following circumstances:

    Where there is a demonstrable case that the University requires short term specialist skills or experience not already available in the University.

    Where the University can demonstrate a specific project that will only last for a limited term and/or is limited by funding.

    To cover staff absence as appropriate (for example, to cover for maternity/adoption leave, long term sickness, research leave, sabbatical or secondment).

    Where the student, or other business demand, can be clearly demonstrated as particularly uncertain, e.g. to meet fluctuating demand for short courses or particular modules.

    To fill specific posts that the University can demonstrate as developmental.

    For an interim period (for example, pending the restructuring of a department and/or recruitment to a specific post).

    Where there is no reasonable prospect of short-term funding being renewed or other internal/external funds becoming available.

This list is not exhaustive and there may be other circumstances in which the use of a FTC may be justified.

Annual Review of Contractual Status for FTC staff

  • As part of the annual planning cycle, HoDs must review the contractual status of all staff who will have accrued 4 years’ continuous service on successive FTCs as of 1st July that year.
  • In January each year HR will provide the Divisional Head and HoDs with a list of FTC staff who will have accrued 4 years’ service as of 1st July; consideration must be given to transferring these staff onto non FTCs. If this is not possible, objective justification must be given by the HoD in line with the guidance above.
  • HoDs must undertake a risk analysis for each case and incorporate any recommendations for conversion to non fixed term status as part of the departmental plan (as budget holder, the Divisional Head must provide formal financial approval for the contractual change before the non FTC contract can be issued).
  • In May/June each year departments must forward appropriate financial approval for conversion to non FTC to HR for the necessary contract changes to take place; this should include level and duration of current funding.
  • Non FT contracts will be issued by HR in June; the non FTC letter of appointment will make the duration and source of funding explicit to the post holder.
  • HoDs must inform HR of any FTC staff with 4 years’ service who cannot be converted to non fixed term status and provide objective justification, in line with the guidance above, for the fixed term continuing. This must be provided to HR by the end of May.
  • HR will write to staff who cannot be converted to non fixed term status in June, presenting the reasons for the continuation of their fixed term contract status.

Appeal Process

  • If the employment is to remain fixed term after 4 years’ continuous service on successive FTCs, objective justification will be provided in writing by HR.
  • If the individual disagrees with this decision he/she has the right to request a review by the Divisional Head. The individual should write to the Divisional Head within 21 days of receipt of the letter from HR, stating why they disagree with the decision.
  • If the Divisional Head has been involved in the decision making process, he/she will forward the letter of appeal to the DVC/PVC for consideration.
  • The Divisional Head (or DVC/PVC) will review the case and provide a written decision. There is no further right of appeal internally.

Monitoring of Funding

  • The contract monitoring and renewal process for staff remaining on FTCs will not change.
  • It will still be necessary to monitor the funding arrangements of externally funded staff converted to non FTCs; shortfalls in funding must be identified early enough to allow meaningful redundancy consultation to take place.
  • HR will continue to monitor funding arrangements for staff on externally funded non FTC and will notify Divisional Heads and HoDs 8 months in advance of current funding expiring.
  • Each department must nominate an individual to monitor external funding, e.g. Departmental Administrator.
  • HoDs must seek appropriate approval to allow employment of externally funded non FTC staff to continue, highlighting the source, duration of funding and any other relevant information.
  • If this is approved, confirmation must be sent to HR, the HR and payroll records will be updated, the individual will be informed of the new source and duration of funding and the employment will continue.
  • If no information is forthcoming from a department 6 months in advance of the current funding expiring, HR will assume that the post is under threat of redundancy and appropriate notice of intent to terminate the contract will be issued in line with section 7 below.

Contingency Fund

  • The University will make suitable arrangements to maintain a contingency fund to cover any short term gaps in funding.
  • HoDs can apply in writing to the Divisional Head for short term funding for fixed term and non fixed term, externally funded staff.
  • Short term funding will normally be for a maximum of 3 months.

Expiry of contracts

  • The University will fully explore all funding, redeployment and retraining options before making staff redundant.
  • The contract end process for staff remaining on FTCs will not change.
  • For externally funded staff, converted to non FTCs, new funding must be secured to allow the employment to continue. If new funding has not been identified 6 months in advance, or if uncertainty remains, then appropriate notice of intention to terminate the contract by reason of redundancy will be issued by HR.
  • Full consultation will take place during the notice period; this may include the possibility of redeployment, retraining and the use of bridging funds.
  • If funding is secured at a later date, the notice of intent to terminate due to reasons of redundancy will be withdrawn.
  • If further funding has not been secured and all options outlined above have been exhausted, the employment will terminate due to reasons of redundancy.

Working Group on Fixed Term Contracts
Amended 31.3.06