Joint statement on the conclusion of the casual teaching claim

University and College Union (UCU) and the University of Sheffield reach agreement over casual teaching arrangements and commit to further joint work.

Following concerns being raised by UCU, and negotiations between representatives of the University and the Sheffield UCU branch, a revised position on the use of casual engagements for those undertaking teaching has been agreed by the University Executive Board. It agreed that all regular scheduled teaching would be undertaken by staff on an employment contract, making this the default position across the University. Only where an arrangement is genuinely of a short-term or ad hoc nature could a casual arrangement still be deemed appropriate, for example professional practitioners enhancing learning and teaching or one-off guest lectures.

This signals positive progress on a matter of great importance to both UCU and the University. Both parties share a joint aim of ensuring that those who work with and for the University are treated fairly and with respect, as well as making sure students benefit from an excellent education and experience.

Whilst the changes above mean that Sheffield UCU is able to close its claim from 2017 on casual teaching, tackling casual working and precarity of employment remains a key element of UCU’s national higher education campaigns, and both parties agree that there is further progress to be made in relation to our casual workforce in Sheffield. UCU and the University have committed to further joint working through the Joint University Campus Committee (JUCC) - the collective negotiation and consultation group for the University.

Alongside this, UCU and the University have agreed to the creation of a grade 7 Graduate Teaching Associate contract. It follows feedback from several departments, recognising that there is a range of teaching undertaken by postgraduate research students (PGRs) within the university, and that this often includes higher grade work. A new job description at grade 7 has been available for departments to use from September 2019.

This builds on the constructive work previously undertaken together with UCU and the University to agree the employment status and terms of employment for our PGRs who undertake teaching alongside their studies.

Edanur Yazici, Anti-Casualisation Rep for UCU Sheffield, said: “We are pleased that we have been able to conclude our 2017 claim on casual teaching. The new position on casual arrangements and the new grade 7 GTA contract represent real progress in ensuring that teaching work is recognised and rewarded appropriately. We look forward to continuing to work with HR to make the University a fairer and more secure place to work for all staff.”

Ian Wright, Deputy Director of HR, said: “I’m grateful to UCU colleagues for raising these issues with us and for working with us constructively to find a solution that benefits staff members, the University and our students. It’s a good example of what we can achieve when we work together and I welcome the opportunity to explore other related issues with trade union colleagues in the future.”