A LIMITED DURATION

1.       Policy and legislative context

1.1      It is the University of Greenwich‟s policy to employ staff on open-ended, or
         permanent, contracts other than where objective justification exists for employing
         them on alternative forms of contract (e.g. fixed-term contracts, consultancy
         agreements). This is consistent with the spirit and provisions of the Fixed Term
         Employee (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 which aims
         to limit the use of fixed-term contracts.

1.2      The standard legal definition of a fixed-term contract is as follows:

              A contract of employment which is due to end when a specified date is reached, a
              specified event does or does not happen or a specified task has been completed.

1.3      Agency workers (“temps”), apprentices, students or other trainees on work experience
         placements or temporary work schemes are not included within the terms of the

2.       Fixed term contracts

      Justification for issuing a fixed-term contract
2.1.1 A fixed-term contract will only be issued when an objective justification exists for
      why an open-ended contract should not be offered. Normally this will be for one of
      the following reasons:

             Training or career development, linked to a structured course or programme of
              instruction which is of a set duration.
             „Cover‟ during a period of extended staff absence (e.g. for reasons of sickness,
              maternity leave, sabbatical, secondment) and when that member of staff is
              expected ultimately to return to their previous post.
             Secondments from another employer.
             When specialist skills or expertise are required which are not already available
              within the workforce, and which is for a strictly limited time period and purpose
              (e.g. for a project or initiative).
             For new areas of work activity which are subject to a „pilot‟ phase or review
              period as a precursor to whether they become, or remain, an established part of a
              School‟s or Office‟s activities.
             When legal restrictions apply to the period in which an individual can be
              employed (e.g. when there are work permit constraints).
             For continuation of employment beyond the University‟s normal retirement age.

2.1.2 Fixed-term contracts will state the reason why a fixed-term appointment has been
      made. An employee has the right to have explained to them by management the
      reasons why they have been appointed on a fixed-term rather than open-ended

2.1.3 The finite nature of external funding arrangements is no longer an objective
      justification for a fixed-term contract (see 3 below).

2.2.1 The Fixed Term Employee (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations
      2002 confers on fixed-term contract employees a right to the same treatment and
      entitlements as staff employed on open-ended contacts, unless an objective
      justification for differential treatment exists. This is unlikely. In effect this means that
      fixed-term contract employees are entitled to the same rates of pay and benefits
      (including pension), training and development, promotion and career development
      opportunities, and consideration for internal job vacancies etc, as their colleagues on
      open-ended contracts.

2.2.2 Fixed-term contract employees with two or more year‟s continuous service are
      entitled to statutory redundancy payments.

2.2.3 Managers must consult Personnel Office in any instances where they believe it is
      justified to offer lesser entitlements to an individual who is to be employed on a fixed-
      term contract.

2.2.4 Fixed-term contract employees who believe they have experienced less favourable or
      detrimental treatment compared to colleagues on open-ended contracts can request a
      written statement from management explaining the reasons why. Management is
      obliged to respond within 21 days of any such request. Personnel Office should be
      consulted in such cases.

      Expiry of fixed term contracts
2.3.1 The expiry of a fixed-term contract is regarded in law as a dismissal. This means that
      employers have to justify the failure to renew a fixed-term contract in much the same
      way as other kinds of dismissal in order to defend unfair dismissal proceedings.

2.3.2 The University‟s policy is to avoid staff redundancies as much as possible. This
      applies as much to fixed-term contract staff as staff on open-ended contracts. Fixed-
      term contracts employees have the same right as others to be considered for internal
      vacancies. The University‟s Preferential Consideration for Redeployment policy will
      apply equally.

2.3.3 Fixed-term contract employees may be offered extensions or additional fixed-term
      contracts so long as this remains justified under the provisions at 2.1.1, and so long as
      an the extension or additional contract does not extend the employee‟s continuous
      service beyond four years. An employee has the right to have their appointment made
      permanent if the duration of their successive fixed-term contracts extends their
      employment beyond four years. Personnel Office will automatically issue open-ended
      contracts to fixed-term staff after four years continuous service.

2.3.4 Personnel Office will monitor fixed-term contract and will contact managers around
      three months prior to the end of a fixed-term contract to establish whether the
      appointment is to terminate or not.

2.3.5 Fixed-term contract staff will receive written notification of the impending expiry of
      their contract in line with the University‟s general policy on notice periods.

      Breaks in service
2.4.1 Continuous service entitlements will not be affected by short breaks in service. The
      University will not recognise short breaks between fixed-term contracts which are
      designed to circumvent statutory redundancy or other entitlements.

3.       Externally funded appointments of a limited duration

3.1.1 It has been customary until recently to appoint academic (both teaching and research)
      staff on fixed-term contracts when the position is underwritten by external funding
      income (e.g. research grants). This is no longer justifiable unless one of the
      exemptions at 2.1.1 apply.

3.1.2 Individuals whose appointments are conditional, at least initially, on external funding
      will, unless the justifications at 2.1.1 apply, be issued with open-ended contracts.
      When funding is due to expire employees will be eligible for redeployment or, if this
      proves impossible, statutory redundancy payments. The University‟s Preferential
      Consideration for Redeployment policy will apply in such cases.

3.1.3 Contracts for staff whose appointments are initially underwritten by external income
      will include clauses to the following effect:

              Clause 1
              Your appointment is initially funded by the ……………………….. (Name of
              funding body) for work on ………………………….. (Title or purpose of
              research project) (optional). Funding for your post is currently available until
              ………………….. (date funding due to expire).

              Clause 2
              In the event of funding coming to an end, your post may become redundant and
              your appointment terminated. In those circumstances your Head of School/Office,
              or his/her nominee, will explore with you redeployment or any other options
              available at that time. You will receive written notice of any redundancy taking
              effect in line with the University‟s general policy on notice periods.

4.       Expectations of School and Office Managers

4.1.1 Management expectations of Schools and Offices
      It is an essential part of good management practice that employees on fixed-term
      contracts, or whose appointments are largely conditional on external income, are kept
      informed of their situation and opportunities for further employment. Managers are
      required to have those dialogues three months prior to the expected expiry of either a
      contract or funding. Managers are expected to discuss with individuals‟ career
      development needs and, where appropriate, bring these to the attention of the
      Personnel Office.

4.1.2 In some cases it will be appropriate for School and Office management to consider
      „bridging funding‟ to facilitate the transfer of employees from one externally funded
      project to another.

                                                                                 Personnel Office
                                                                                       May 2009

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