9 thoughts on “UK folks on fixed term contracts…

  1. I am failing to parse “at any one institution on the same contract for 4 years on 2 or more contracts”. Is there a word missing?

  2. Yes I couldn’t make sense of that – I’m not sure what it should say. I thought it could mean on the same contract in the sense that the terms of the contract are the same, even though one has actually been employed on different contracts in the sense of different pieces of paper. But I will try and find out what it means.

  3. From http://www.ucu.org.uk/3545:

    “The use of successive fixed-term contracts

    “The regulations limit the use of successive fixed-term contracts to a period of four years. Once a fixed-term employee has four years’ continuous service on two or more contracts (or has had their contract renewed), the contract automatically becomes indefinite unless the continued use is objectively justified. Service prior to 10 July 2002 did not count towards this period of four years.

    “There is no limit on the duration of a first fixed-term contract. But if a first fixed-term contract lasts for four years or more and is renewed, the second contract will be regarded as permanent (unless the continuing use of a fixed-term contract is objectively justified).”

  4. Ta, Heg. I think one of the problems is that institutions get round this rule by employing people continuously but with a break (summer holiday) between their contracts? So each contract is a ten-monther, rather than a full year.

  5. Possibly, but an even more basic problem is that fixed-term contracts which are ‘objectively justified’ can continue to be fixed term, and that often includes posts which are externally funded as part of a particular project. Academic life is increasingly funded by discrete fixed-term grants, and so it gets easier to justify fixed-term contracts – even without a summer break…

  6. And, from the perspective of a HOD, it’s absolutely essential to continue to justify fixed-term contracts when they’re externally funded by a fixed-term grant. I don’t think there’s anything fishy about this justification: we have been given money to employ someone for X years. After X years, we will no longer have the money to employ someone. I don’t think allowing this justification is a problem.

    What *is* a problem is universities not creating enough permanent posts.

  7. A different problem is where the same temporary staff are continually employed on broken up (non-continuous) contracts year after year to plug holes in the teaching provision.

  8. Jenny, I agree with you: fixed-term funding isn’t always a spurious reason for a fixed-term contract. But there are cases – more of them in the sciences – where it’s questionable. There are plenty of post docs and research assistants, employed within large externally-funded project teams, who have skills which are readily transferable and which the university knows it will need over a long period to support future projects. Universities rely on those people and shouldn’t use fixed-term contracts for them just because they *can* point to a funding end-date.

  9. Heg and Monkey: those both seem very clearly bad, yes.

    What we tend to get more often in philosophy is cover for someone’s research leave. And I am very frustrated that I’m required to treat even the end of a one-year contract as a redundancy– with lots of very formal letters I am required to send (with required text) about people being about to be made redundant. I make a point of separately explaining to these people that I’m about to send them a required letter, etc. But even then I have been told that all the formalities of redundancy make the process worse.

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