Our position on casual working

The University is committed to ensuring that all members of its workforce are engaged on the most appropriate contract and all engagements are completed in a transparent and fair way.

We recognise the need for flexibility within our workforce to cover activities, which may be variable and unpredictable. The University values the integral support our casual workers provide to enable the business to respond to occasional, seasonal or fluctuating demands in work.

Over the past year, following discussions with University and College Union (UCU) colleagues, we have confirmed our commitment to ensure all regular scheduled teaching is undertaken by staff on employment and not casual contracts.  The Graduate Teaching Associate (GTA) employment contract (Grade 7) has been introduced to recognise the type of work some departments have told us they need postgraduate research students to carry out and builds on the constructive work we have previously undertaken with our University & College Union (UCU) colleagues to agree the employment status and terms of employment for our PGRs who undertake teaching alongside their studies.

Our staff tell us that the University is an excellent place to work and provides a very attractive total reward and benefits package for all our staff, including those who work with us on a more flexible/casual basis.  A 2018 staff survey for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) and casual workers, confirmed that this group of staff, share the positive view of our other staff, that the University is an excellent place to work (91%) and that they were proud to work for the University (95%).

Our students and recent graduates undertake the majority (approx. 75%) of casual assignments at the University, which provides valuable opportunities to gain work experience to enhance their future employability, whilst enabling the University to deliver business needs.

The University continues to work proactively with UCU and our other local trade unions to identify means of reviewing the employment status of all those who work on a casual basis to ensure our relationship suits the individual and supports the needs of the University and our students.

We pride ourselves in being an excellent employer and will continue to review and apply fairness to all our staff - be they on open ended, fixed term contracts or engaged on a casual basis - in order to build on our reputation as one of the best employers in the sector.

Tracy Wray
Director of HR and Communications

Background information
  • In 2014, we agreed with our local UCU branch the introduction of a new Graduate Teaching Contract to formalise the employment relationship of our post graduate students who were previously undertaking teaching on a casual basis. We now have over c.1,000 staff engaged on the Graduate Teaching Contract which affords them full employment status to undertake these duties where there is an ongoing commitment to do so for the duration of their studies.
  • The University was used as a case study of good practice in the New JNCHES joint working group report on casual workers.
  • From September 2018, the University has committed that all planned scheduled teaching activity will be covered by staff employed on fixed term or open ended contracts of employment. Please find more information here.
What rights does a casual worker have?

You can read about the features of the agreement, including associated employment rights, here:

What are the rates of pay for a casual worker?

In order to support principles of equal pay for work of equal value, hourly rates are linked to the first point on each of the nine University of Sheffield grades. More details can be found here:

I think my employment relationship with Sheffield should be an employee not a casual worker; how do I raise this?

We advise managers that the employment relationship should be reviewed from time to time to ensure that the appropriate form of contract is in place.  If the relationship changes over time either the manager or the worker can initiate discussions to review the pattern and type of work in line with the payment decision tree.  You should raise any questions or concerns about your employment status with your line manager in the first instance.

Further advice

If you need further advice from HR, contact the relevant faculty by emailing: