Guidance on University Fixed-Term Contract (FTC)

Effective 1 January 2014

The aim of this guidance is to provide an effective route for departments to make recommendations on where it is appropriate to use FTCs and where it is possible and appropriate to move staff from FTCs onto open-ended contracts, through a transparent and well managed process.

1. Initial Appointment to a FTC

1.1 Where one or more of the six criteria (Key Principle 2) is met, then appointment to either an open-ended contract or FTC can be recommended, subject to appropriate approval, through the job requisition process in e-Recruitment. Please contact your department recruiter who will process this on your behalf.

1.2 Where none of the six criteria (Key Principle 2) can be met then appointment to an open-ended contract will generally be recommended. However, if a department feels that the use of a FTC can be justified on other grounds then advice should be sought from Human Resources, who will provide guidance on what form of contract is appropriate.

2. Renewal or Extension of a FTC

2.1 Requests to extend or renew a FTC for a member of staff with less than 4 years´ continuous service will be judged against the six criteria set in Key Principle 2.

2.2 It is recognised that during the employment period the circumstances which made the use of a FTC appropriate may change. Therefore the criteria used to justify a renewal or extension may be different from that used at the initial appointment. Similarly, the circumstances may change so that the continued use of a FTC becomes inappropriate or it becomes possible to make the post permanent, and a department may request at any time that an open-ended contract be issued instead. Such requests should be submitted as a contract change request within e-Recruitment. Please contact your department recruiter who will process this on your behalf.

3. Four Year Review

3.1 All staff with four or more years´ continuous service on successive FTCs must be considered for transfer onto an open-ended contract. It may still be possible for a FTC to be extended or renewed beyond four years, but the criteria against which such requests are judged are more tightly defined.

3.2 Requests to extend or renew an FTC where the member of staff has 4 or more years continuous service will only be approved where one or more of the following criteria are met:

  • (i) The post is externally funded with significant certainty that the funds will cease in the foreseeable future, and no other funds are available.
  • (ii) There is significant certainty that the work being undertaken will cease in the foreseeable future, and no alternative similar work is likely to be available.
  • (iii) A permanent member of staff will be returning to the post at a date in the foreseeable future.

3.3 The application of these more rigorous criteria rule out the use of FTCs to cover periods of staff absence, to provide specialist skills in the short term or due to uncertain business demand. It is anticipated therefore that in the majority of cases, FTCs will only be permitted beyond 4 years in circumstances where the work being done will cease at a date which is known, or the work is dependent on external funds which are due to end and will not be extended or replaced from other sources.

3.4 The review need not be conducted immediately on acquiring four years´ continuous service, but should be performed at each request to extend or renew a FTC thereafter. It may still be possible for a FTC to be extended or renewed beyond four years, but the criteria against which such requests are judged are more tightly defined.

4. Requests for a written statement under The Regulations

Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002

4.1 Under The Regulations, staff employed on FTCs have the right to request confirmation that they have been transferred onto an open-ended contract or a written explanation as to why not. This must be provided by the Head of Department within 21 days of receiving a written request. Heads of Departments should consult with their Faculty HR Manager before providing a response.

4.2 As set out above a member of staff may request a written statement under The Regulations in the following circumstances:

  • (i) To justify less favourable treatment;
  • (ii) Where 4 years’ service has been accrued, to confirm open-ended status or;
  • (iii) To justify the continuation of a FTC (with effect from 1 July 2006).

4.3 Requests under The Regulations should be made in writing, dated, and sent to the Head of Department, copied to Human Resources.

4.4 The Head of Department shall be responsible for providing the written statement and should consult immediately with Human Resources for assistance in preparing this response.

5. Guiding Principles of Application

5.1 When assessing appointment and renewals against the criteria, care should be exercised to avoid the application of the criteria in such a way to affect one gender or a particular group detrimentally, since this could amount to unlawful indirect discrimination.

5.2 All appointment procedures to FTCs should follow the same process as all other appointments, in terms of maintaining quality, standards and equality of opportunity.

5.3 Where transfer to an open-ended contract is recommended all other University procedures, including approval mechanisms and equality of opportunity, should be adhered to.

5.4 All issues of performance or quality that arise during the duration of a FTC should be addressed in the same way as for all other staff and in accordance with agreed University practice and procedures.

5.5 FTCs should not be used for performance management purposes or to achieve staffing flexibility that is not based upon the criteria set out above.

5.6 The guidance provided on the use of funding type as a basis for the use or continuation of FTCs should be closely adhered to.

6. FTC Expiry and Consultation Procedure

6.1 The Change Management Policy and the suite of related Procedures (Restructuring, Redundancy Avoidance, Redeployment, and Redundancy), sets out the fair, robust, and transparent principles and processes to be followed so that the University’s interests are protected and staff are treated fairly.

6.2 The Redundancy Avoidance Procedure, which should be read in conjunction with the Change Management Policy and related procedures, outlines the University’s process for the consultation and management of the potential expiry of FTCs.

7. Legislative Background

The Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 (`The Regulations´) came into force on 1 October 2002. The Regulations set out that fixed-term employees should not be treated less favourably than comparable permanent employees on the grounds they are fixed-term employees, unless this can be objectively justified.

The Regulations set out the following:

  • (i) The University is required to provide on request, a written statement, within 21 days, setting out the reasons for less favourable treatment if a member of staff believes that this may have occurred.
  • (ii) All FTCs renewed or extended with more than 4 years service, from 1 July 2002, need to be justified, or transfer to an open-ended contract shall automatically take place.* The University is required under The Regulations to provide on request a written statement, within 21 days, either confirming that a FTC has become open-ended or if not, the reasons why it has not.
  • (iii) The use of FTCs may only be justified in law where they are being used to achieve a legitimate business objective, where it is necessary to achieve that objective and where it is an appropriate way to achieve that objective.

*The acquiring of 4 years service through successive use of FTCs shall not be regarded as an acceptable reason for the termination of employment.

Document Control
Last Update: 12/13
Date of Next Review: 12/16