Fixed-term contracts: as end date approaches (2 or more years’ service)

The process/assistance outlined in this guidance applies only to employees who, at the expected contract end date, will have accrued two or more years’ continuous service with the University. For staff with less than two years’ continuous service see the guidance here. 

It is important to keep a record of discussions and actions and the Record of Consultation form at the right hand side of the page form provides a means of recording key information.

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No later than 4 months before the contract end date:

Action for departments

 

  • By reference to the original justification for the fixed-term, the department and line manager should consider all alternative options to the expiry of the contract, including (for academic-related externally funded staff) whether an open-ended externally funded contract could be considered.  
  • If the contract can definitely be renewed/extended then the appropriate arrangements for renewal/issuing of a new contract should be followed. 
  • In all other cases, the Record of Consultation form at the right hand side of the page should be used to summarise the discussions between departmental HR staff and the line manager about the current position regarding the post (likelihood of contract being ended, consideration of alternatives to ending the contract).

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No later than 3 months before the contract end date

Action for departments

Unless it has been possible to offer a contract extension or new contract the department should:

  • decide who will be the appropriate key contact for the individual in co-ordinating the end of contract process and providing assistance. This may be the line manager, departmental administrator, or a member of the HR team, as appropriate to the department. It is important that this is someone who can provide support through the redeployment process.
  • The individual must be invited to a consultation meeting (pro forma letter X1). They must be given five working days’ notice of the meeting and advised that they have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative, or colleague from within the University, if they wish. The purpose of the meeting is to remind staff of the approaching contract expiry date and consult on the prospects for alternatives to ending the contract, taking account of the postholder’s aspirations.
  • If the individual does not wish to engage with this process (for example, because they have already secured future employment, or are moving to another area/country) they should sign the declaration (sent with the letter) to this effect and return this to the department’s HR contact/team. This should be retained on file and the department should move to Stage 5: confirming the contract expiry (below).
  • If the individual fails to respond to the initial invitation, one attempt should be made to rearrange and a second meeting date offered, giving five working days’ notice (pro forma letter X2).
  • If the employee fails to respond to a second invitation, then pro forma letter X3 should be sent confirming arrangements for ending the contract, and setting out the details of any redundancy payment which is due and the arrangements for appeal. The department should move to the guidance set out below at Stage 5: confirming the contract expiry, concerning making the redundancy payment.

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Action for departments

Before the meeting:

  • the department should prepare a priority candidate cover letter (pro forma letter P1) for the employee which explains the employee’s grade, job title and contract end date, as well as briefly explaining the reason that the contract will end by reference to the original justifications for the fixed-term contract.

At the meeting the employee should be:

  • advised of the likelihood that the contract will end, and the reasons for this;
  • given the opportunity to put forward any suggestions as to how the post might be continued.  Any such suggestions must be considered.  However, it is recognised that in some cases, for example where the post is to cover the absence of the substantive postholder, or the employee is employed on a limited term visa which may not be renewed, or employed on a project which is ending, there may be little scope for flexibility;
  • advised that they are entitled to time off during the working day to attend interviews or relevant training;
  • asked about their own career plans and whether they wish to be considered for suitable alternative employment* within the University.  This process is referred to as redeployment, and the period between the individual being given notice that their contract may end, and the actual contract end date is the redeployment period.

*Suitable alternative employment is defined as a post where the individual’s skills and experience match the selection criteria for the post, or might be able to do so given a short period of training.  Suitable redeployment opportunities will normally be posts at the same grade or, in some circumstances, a lower grade than the post currently held.  Posts at higher grades (ie promotion opportunities) will not be considered as suitable alternative employment for redeployees although the individual may of course apply for such posts in open competition. The type of role the individual currently holds will inform whether suitable alternative employment is likely to arise during the three month redeployment period and this should be discussed openly during the consultation meeting.  For example, if the individual is engaged in a generic role such as administration, IT, or in a research role with generic skills then the likelihood of a suitable post arising is higher than for someone with very specialist research skills.

 

 

If the individual expresses interest in seeking redeployment they should be advised that:

  • in the event that a potentially suitable vacancy occurs within the currently-employing department during the redeployment period, they will be invited to discuss it before it is advertised more widely.  In the event that they are found to be suitable match, and wish to take up the post, they will be offered the post without the need for a formal application process (unless there is more than one priority candidate within the department, in which case an internal, competitive process may be required);
  • all University vacancies are advertised through the University’s Jobs website so they should regularly consult this if they wish to look for jobs in the University more broadly;
  • assistance is available, if necessary, with use of the  e-recruitment system;
  • where a vacancy which might represent suitable alternative employment arises in another department of the University during the redeployment period they may request to  be considered as a ‘priority candidate’ for the post. The individual should be given the priority candidate confirmation letter (pro-forma letter P1) and the process should be explained;
  • guidance and advice on job search skills are available for all staff from the University Careers Service website. For research staff additional assistance is available, such as one-to-one meetings with careers advisers and workshops.

The department should exercise discretion in the level of assistance a member of staff may wish or require.

The Record of Consultation form at the right hand side of the page should be used to record the meeting and a copy of this form may be given to the individual or, if preferred, the department may write to the individual summarising the discussion after the meeting.

Action for individuals

The effectiveness of redeployment efforts are dependent upon the full engagement of the staff member concerned. Staff wishing to seek redeployment are expected to exercise flexibility in the types of work they will consider and to actively engage with the process by:

  • regularly checking the University’s jobs pages 
  • submitting applications for appropriate posts
  • asking for assistance as required
  • seeking training where this may improve employability

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This stage only applies where employee has expressed the wish to be able to apply for posts in other departments as a priority candidate. 

 

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No later than 1 month before the contract end date

No later than one month prior to the scheduled expiry of a fixed-term contract, if employment has not been renewed or extended, and no suitable redeployment opportunities have been found, the department must write to the employee confirming that their contract will expire, using (pro-forma letter X4). This letter should include information on redundancy pay and the right to appeal.

Notice Period

Fixed-term contracts provide notice of the date on which, subject to renewal or extension, the employee’s employment will come to an end. As a result, there is no contractual requirement to provide a further notice period if employment is expected to end on the date specified in the employment contract.

Redundancy payment

Employees on fixed-term contracts are entitled to a statutory redundancy payment if they have worked continuously for the University for at least two years and their post is being made redundant.

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Fixed-term employees have the right to appeal against notice of dismissal on grounds of redundancy. Details of the appropriate appeal process are included in the notice of dismissal (pro-forma letter X4).

Any appeal must follow one of two processes:

For academic and academic-related staff

For support staff

In all cases, every effort will be made to hear appeals before the date on which the individual's employment is due to end. Employment will not be extended to hear the appeal. If it has not been possible to hear the appeal before contract expiry date (the “date of the dismissal”), an employee whose appeal is successful will be reinstated with full continuity of service and no loss of pay or other employment benefits. The employee will be required to return any payment made in respect of any termination of employment.

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In the event that a short contract extension (up to six months) is arranged during the course of the procedure outlined here, then the pro forma contract extension letter should include the relevant additional paragraphs reflecting.

Any assistance with redeployment which has been agreed may continue if required by the individual, but the individual may only be considered as a priority candidate from three months before the new contract end date. A new priority candidate cover letter (pro forma letter P1) should be issued at the appropriate time, reflecting the new contract end date.

Where a contract extension of more than six months is agreed (or where a contract extension of less than six months is arranged before any of actions outlined above have been started) the process outlined in this guidance should be started from the beginning at the appropriate time.

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