Teaching Engagements

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.

The FAQs here give further details on the process and considerations relating to this.

Further details on the contractual relationships used by the University and supporting guidance can be found here. Advice is also available from your faculty HR Team.


Will there be a transition period into the new arrangements?

From September, planned scheduled teaching should be undertaken by staff engaged through employment contracts. Given the timing of this revised approach it may be necessary to consider how teaching committed to individuals on a casual basis for 2018-19 is now delivered. This may result in a greater number of staff employed as teaching specialists for a fixed term over a transitional period. In the longer term, Departments should consider how best to recruit to posts to ensure delivery of teaching meets the University’s commitments and its status as a research intensive and research led teaching institution.

Are there any exceptions to this approach?

For very short assignments, or where there are reasons that would preclude an individual entering into an employment contract, engagements may be on a casual basis.

Also, where there is a need to cover absence at very short notice it may be more practical, at least in the first instance, to engage someone on a casual basis.

Your Faculty HR Manager will be able to help determine the best approach in such circumstances.

Does this cover non-teaching casual engagements?

Non-teaching casual engagements are out of scope of these arrangements, though managers are encouraged to regularly review the contractual relationships of those they engage, using supporting guidance.

Has this approach been agreed with the Trade Unions?

These arrangements have been put in place following extensive talks with UCU locally. The local branch welcomes the approach being taken.

What duration is a ‘short term’ engagement?

A ’short term’ engagement would be less than a semester, though faculties may stipulate a shorter time period in order to locally manage their teaching requirements in the most appropriate way.

How are preparation and marking time determined in an employment contract?

Where allocations have been developed and used for those engaged on a casual basis, these can be used when determining the hours required for an employment contract. Over time the preparation and marking allocation will be determined in line with the work planning process.

How will this process be monitored?

The use of employment and casual contracts by departments will be monitored at faculty level from both a financial perspective and the numbers/types of engagements.

How will new, replacement and extension of posts for employees be approved?

New, replacement and extension of posts for employees should be approved using existing faculty approval routes; teaching contracts will not be exempt from this.

Will there be any changes to the use of the GTA contract?

No. Graduate Teaching Assistants are already engaged on employment contracts, and are in roles designed to supplement their primary purpose of being at the University as a student.

Can a manager stipulate when annual leave is taken in order to meet the teaching requirements of the department?

Staff can be required to teach on particular days/weeks to fit the times when teaching has been scheduled and to take annual leave in non-teaching periods.

Can a manager stipulate the working hours of a contract in order to meet the teaching requirements of the department?

Staff can be required to teach a particular number of hours to fit the teaching requirements of the department.

What reasons would preclude an individual entering into an employment contract with the University?

Where those engaged are also working in practice (for example as a practicing architect) and the work they undertake for the University is ad hoc and/or in addition to their substantive role in practice, they may continue to be engaged on a casual basis.

Would those employed for short periods undertake an SRDS?

Where the employment contract falls within the period when SRDS is undertaken in the department an SRDS should be undertaken. The reflections and objectives set would be proportionate to the length and time commitment for the role. All staff should have an About The Job (ATJ), which would provide the foundation for their objectives.

When can a direct appointment be agreed?

A direct appointment is when a post is not advertised and an individual is directly placed in the role. This would be in agreement with the customary HR team contacts and would be by exception. Such instances where this might be agreed would be: when there is an immediate need for the role and it is short term; and where there is only one individual who could undertake the work and the department is confident that they could undertake this to a high standard.

Can an employee have more than one contract for different types of work?

If an employee is undertaking different types of work, either for the same or different departments which would be considered two separate roles, then this could be arranged through separate contracts; however this would depend on the nature of the work and the arrangements for this. Advice is available from your customary HR team.

What is the process for ending employment contracts?

Details on the ending of employment contracts through the conclusion/cessation of work can be found here. For short term contracts of under 3 months the appointment letter would include details of the notice period for the end of the contract. Consultation should still be undertaken by the department in this circumstance, but the post holder would not be eligible for redeployment opportunities. Advice is available from your customary HR Team.

I have engaged a casual worker to undertake planned scheduled teaching from September 2018. Do I need to revise the way they are engaged?

If the work will be for a semester or longer, the engagement should be through an employment contract. Your HR team can support you in advising on this change.

What proportion of the teaching is currently undertaken by those engaged on a casual basis?

In the past year, it is estimated that casual teaching arrangements accounted for 2.1% of the total workforce FTE engaged in teaching at the University.

Will there be an increase in costs for departments as a result?

There may be an increase in costs in the following circumstances:

  • If those previously engaged on a casual basis who had chosen not to join USS then opt to join the Scheme when employed. If this was the case there would be an increase in 18% of the costs with their engagement;
  • Through an employment contract there is the normal expectation of incremental pay progression, which may increase costs where contracts extend over 1 year in duration;
  • Workers are entitled to 28 days annual leave, inclusive of bank holidays, pro rata; employees are entitled to either 27 (Grades 1 to 6) or 30 days (Grade 7 and above) annual leave, pro rata, plus bank holidays and customary days.