Fixed-term contracts: as end date approaches (less than 2 years’ service)

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

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Action for departments

No later than four months before the contract is due to end: departments should consider, by reference to the objective justification for the fixed-term period, whether the post is likely to end. The department and line manager should consider all alternative options to the expiry of the contract. 

If the contract can definitely be renewed/extended then the appropriate arrangements for renewal/issuing of a new contract (including any local arrangements regarding approvals for the new or extended post) should be followed. 

In all other cases the process below should be followed.

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Action for departments

Three to four months (but no later than three months) before the contract is due to end (unless it is possible to extend or renew the contract), the employee must be reminded of the contract end date. Pro forma letter X5 provides the key information and departments may arrange to meet with the employee to go through the letter in person, if appropriate, or may simply send the letter to the individual. The letter:


  • reminds the individual of their contract end date
  • advises them that all University vacancies are advertised within the University’s Jobs pages, and that they are eligible to be considered for ‘internal only’* vacancies
  • reminds them of the careers/job search advice provided by University’s Careers Service, including the ‘Useful Career Resources’ summary webpage
  • advises them that they may take reasonable time off to seek alternative employment (for example, in order to attend interviews, undertake training or other career development events which take place during the working day)
  • reminds them that all holiday should normally be taken before their last day of employment
  • provides the name of the person to whom  they should address any questions

*All current staff, regardless of length of service, may apply for vacancies advertised as ‘internal only’. However, only those with at least two years’ continuous service with the University are eligible to be considered as priority candidates.

Action for individuals

  • Individuals should engage with job search activities, such as preparing an up-to-date CV, searching job sites (both the University’s Jobs pages as well as external resources to maximise the chances of suitable employment being found), applying for suitable posts, following job search guidance including ‘Useful Career Resources’ available from resources such as the University’s Careers Service.
  • The support and guidance available from the Careers Service about job search skills should be reviewed. Research staff, in particular, have a range of resources available to them, included a careers adviser and targeted information through the Careers Service, and are encouraged to take maximum advantage of the opportunities available.
  • Where individuals need time off for activities such as attending interviews, or training courses which can only be undertaken during working hours this should be requested through the normal departmental routes.

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Action for departments

One month before the contract is due to expire: if it has not been possible to find suitable alternative employment the employee should be written to (pro-forma letter X6), confirming their contract expiry date and the arrangements for ending their employment. This is likely to include: handover arrangements; a reminder that all holiday should normally be taken before the last day of work; details of arrangements for returning equipment, access cards, handing over data, closure of email accounts, etc.


If the employee is absent from the workplace, for example due to extended sickness leave or on maternity leave, departments should consult their HR Business Partner.


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