Under Statute XIV, Section 1 of the University Statutes, only duly authorised postholders within departments, institutions and faculties may:
- offer employment and sign letters of appointment for academic-related staff
- offer employment and sign letters of appointment for university support staff
- dismiss academic-related staff who are on probation, and university support staff
Authority is given on the provision that any offer of employment is made on the appropriate terms and conditions of employment for the category of staff concerned and that any dismissal of academic-related staff on probation, or of University support staff, will be in accordance with the agreed procedures.
Normally formal authority to employ is only given to lead departmental administrators (who are only given authority to employ, and not to dismiss) and heads of academic departments (for UAS separate arrangements apply).
Only the head of department or equivalent has the authority to dismiss (under the formal disciplinary procedures), and this only relates to academic-related staff on probation or University support staff: academic-related staff who have successfully completed their probationary period are subject to the dismissal arrangements outlined in Statute XII Part D.
However, in the absence or unavailability of the head of department or equivalent, a formally nominated deputy may act on his or her behalf and take appropriate disciplinary action, including the dismissal of a member of academic-related staff on probation or of University support staff.
Generating letters and arrangements for deputising
Although only specified postholders have authority to offer employment and sign letters of appointment, this does not, of course, preclude other persons from generating letters of appointment for signature, although they must be signed by the person(s) who is the authorised signatory. However, in the absence or unavailability of an authorised postholder, a deputy who has been formally nominated by the relevant departmental or equivalent authority may act on behalf of the authorised postholder, and offer and sign letters of appointment.
When there is a change of head of department or lead departmental administrator a letter confirming the appropriate authority can be requested by emailing the PA to the HR Director.
Under English law electronic signatures can be used to sign formal employment contracts. It is therefore acceptable for those with authority to sign employment contracts to use an electronic signature as opposed to a wet ink signature, so that they can sign contracts remotely, or to speed up the process and minimise use of paper. However, the electronic signature should not be pasted into the contract by anyone other than the formally authorised signatory unless a clear ‘paper trail’ is available which provides evidence that the authorised signatory has in fact formally approved the appointment (for example an email approval).
The individual in receipt of the employment contract may also use an electronic signature to confirm acceptance of the employment offer.