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Procedure for the Expiry of Fixed-term Contracts for Teaching & Scholarship, Research, Support and Casual Staff Groups

Contents

 

  1. Introduction
  2. Scope
  3. Procedure
  4. Definitions
1 Introduction


1.1 This Procedure supports the implementation of the School’s Policy on the employment of Fixed-term Staff by setting out clear processes for the consultation of fixed-term staff whose contract of employment is nearing expiry.
1.2 The School has legal responsibilities to carry out meaningful consultation with employees in such circumstances and seek appropriate alternative redeployment opportunities for employees whose contracts are expiring by reasons of redundancy.
1.3 SOAS is committed to minimising the numbers of fixed-term staff who are dismissed on the expiry of their contracts, by seeking to transfer staff to permanent contracts, extend contracts or through redeployment where ever possible.  This Procedure sets out the process for this, to ensure that employees are consulted on changes to their employment with the School. Whilst the School will make every effort to identify possible redeployment opportunities in accordance with the School’s redeployment procedure, it should be noted that there can be no guarantee of redeployment, particularly where any alternative posts are of a different specialism or grade.
1.4 The School follows a three-stage process when the employment of a fixed-term member of staff ends at the expiry of their contract.
1.5 If an employee whose contract is due to expire is on leave (e.g. sick leave, maternity leave), the School still has legal obligations to carry out consultation. Managers should seek advice in such cases from their designated HR Manager.
1.6 If an employee whose contract is due to expire is pregnant, managers should contact their designated HR Manager for further advice.
1.7 Modified arrangements may be required for employees whose normal workplace is not the School premises, such as home-workers.  If these groups of staff are unable to attend a meeting in person, they will be offered the opportunity to participate by telephone conference calls in Stages 2 and 3 of this procedure.
1.8 The timescales in this Procedure reflect the need of the School to provide adequate notice of dismissal to employees, to allow time to find redeployment opportunities and for the stages of the procedure to be followed.  Any delay in instigating any stage of this procedure, may result in an extension of contract or payment in lieu of notice if an employee has not received sufficient notice in accordance with their contract of employment (if applicable).  The cost of any such extension of contract or payment in lieu will be met by the employing department.
1.9 In exceptional cases (for example, where a fixed-term employee has been given a short extension of contract or short fixed-term contracts), it may not be possible to adhere strictly to these timescales and this should be explained to the employee.

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2 Scope


2.1 This Procedure applies to Teaching & Scholarship, Research, Support and Casual Staff Groups.
2.2 Teaching & Research staff are covered by the Standing Order relating to Academic Staff: Dismissal, Discipline, and Grievance Procedures and Related Matters, Part V and associated procedures.
2.3 This Procedure will not apply to the premature ending of fixed-term contracts for reason of redundancy arising under the Management of Reorganisation and Change Policy.  For such cases, please seek further guidance from your designated designated HR Manager.

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3 Procedure


3.1 Monitoring of fixed-term contracts due to expire


3.1.1 Managers are sent monthly reports of fixed-term contract staff by the HR Directorate and reminders to conduct end of fixed-term consultation meetings with employees whose fixed term contracts are due to end.

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3.2 Notice of fixed-term contract due to expire


3.2.1 Five months (or a suitable time frame for short-term contracts) before an employee’s contract is due to expire, the appropriate manager will write to the employee to give them notice that their contract is due to expire and to invite them to a consultation meeting to discuss the ending of their fixed-term contract, in accordance with Stage 1 of this Procedure.

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3.3 Stage 1: Invitation to attend a meeting


3.3.1 The notice letter from the appropriate Manager to the employee will explain that their position is due to expire,  set out the reason for the proposed termination of employment, invite them to a consultation meeting and explain the possible alternative options to the ending of their contract (e.g. transfer to a permanent contract, extension of contract or redeployment in accordance with the School’s Redeployment Policy).
3.3.2 The employee should normally be given ten working days notice in advance of the meeting.
3.3.3 A standard template letter (FT1 letter) exists for this purpose and can be found in the Appendices to this policy.  The letter may be sent by email and/or post as appropriate.
3.3.4 The letter will advise the employee of their right to be accompanied at the meeting by a work colleague or trade union representative.
3.3.5 A copy of the letter must be confidentially retained by Manager and should be forwarded to the HR Directorate for storage.
3.3.6 This letter should be sent four months prior to the date that the employee’s contract is due to expire.  This is to ensure that timely consultation can take place and to enable time for any redeployment processes to occur as appropriate.

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3.4 Stage 2: Meeting to discuss the expiry of the Fixed-term Contract


3.4.1 The meeting should normally take place no later than three months before the expiry of the employee’s fixed-term contract.
3.4.2 If the employee or their representative is unable to attend the proposed date for the meeting, they should inform the Manager as soon as possible and suggest an alternative date when they and their representative (if applicable) are available.  Any alternative date should be reasonable and within five working days after the date proposed by the Manager.  This five-day limit may be extended by mutual consent.
3.4.3 If the employee does not want to attend the meeting, they should decline the invitation in writing.  In doing so, the employee should understand that the School will make a decision regarding the termination of their employment without further consultation with the individual and that the School will not be required to follow the remaining steps of this Procedure.
3.4.4 The purpose of the meeting is:


i. Discuss the feasibility of avoiding the dismissal of the individual, such as the possibility of a transfer to a permanent contract, an extension of the fixed-term contract or redeployment.  If these options are not possible, the reasons should be explained and discussed with the employee.
ii. Provide the employee with an opportunity to raise issues and queries about their fixed-term contract, the prospect for further employment and their aspirations on these matters.
iii. Clarify the reasons for the non-renewal of the employee’s fixed-term contract if other options are not possible.
iv. Discuss the support available at SOAS to staff whose contracts are due to expire, such as appropriate training opportunities and job seeking support such as time of work to attend interviews.  The employee should be reminded of how to access information about other positions within the School.


3.4.5 The discussion should take place in a structured way to ensure that all the possible options and issues are discussed.  The FT2 form should be used as a prompt to aid this.
3.4.6 The role of the work colleague at the meeting is to support the employee and act as witness.  The role of the trade union representative is to put the employee’s case and to respond on the employee’s behalf to views expressed at the meeting.  Their role is not to answer questions on behalf of the employee.  
3.4.7 A senior member of the HR Directorate may be invited or elect to present at the meeting, to advise on procedure.
3.4.8 A list of current vacancies should be downloaded from the School’s vacancy/redeployment website for the meeting and if a possible suitable alternative position is identified for redeployment, this will be dealt with in accordance with the School’s normal redeployment processes.
3.4.9 Further consultation meetings may be necessary, to discuss any new redeployment opportunities that may have arisen after the meeting or to discuss progress on possible outcomes which may have been agreed at the meeting.  A record of any further consultation meetings should be retained by the Manager, and a copy of this record should given to the employee for their records.
3.4.10 If the employee fails to attend the meeting for an unforeseen reason, the Manager should invite the employee to a second meeting.  If the employee fails to attend the rescheduled meeting for an unforeseen reason, the School will make a decision regarding the termination of their employment without further consultation with the individual and will not be required to follow the remaining steps of this Procedure.

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3.5 Notifying the employee of the outcome of the meeting


3.5.1 The Manager should complete the FT2 form to record the discussion and outcome of the  meeting(s).  The form is available in the Appendices of this Procedure.
3.5.2 A copy of the completed form should be given to the employee for their records.
3.5.3 A second copy should be forwarded to the Human Resources Directorate together with a copy of the notice letter, normally at least one month before the employee’s contract is due to expire.
3.5.4 Transfer to a permanent appointment: If, following the meeting, the Manager is proposing to transfer the employee to a permanent contract, the Manager should complete the Variation of Contract form and obtain the appropriate authorisation in accordance with the School’s procedures.  When the HR Directorate has received the authorised Variation of Contract form, they will issue a letter to the employee confirming that their appointment has become permanent and any revised terms and conditions of employment as appropriate.
3.5.5 Extension of fixed-term appointment: If following the meeting, the Manager is proposing to extend the employee’s fixed-term appointment, the Manager should complete the Variation of Contract form and explain the objective justification for the post remaining fixed-term as laid out in the School’s Policy on the Employment of Fixed-term staff.  The Manager should then obtain authorisation for the extension of contract in accordance with the School’s procedures. When the HR Directorate has received the authorised Variation of Contract form, they will issue a letter to the employee confirming the extension of contract and the objective justification for this.  Managers should bear in mind that they will need to re-commence this Procedure before the expiry date of the employee’s extended contract.
3.5.6 Redeployment: If a redeployment opportunity is identified at the meeting, the Manager should notify HR on the FT2 form and the steps of the normal redeployment process should be followed (e.g. interview, trial period etc as appropriate).  Where redeployment has been successfully completed, the HR Directorate will formally write to the employee confirming details of redeployment including details of any trial period.  Normally any such redeployment will commence the day after the employee’s contract was due to expire.   The employee will not be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment (if eligible) if redeployed to a suitable alternative position.
3.5.7 Termination of employment: In the unfortunate event that other options have not proven possible, the Manager should clearly record this on the FT2 form and advise the employee of their right to appeal.  On receipt of the FT2 form, the HR Directorate will write to the employee confirming the ending of their employment with the School.  The letter will confirm the reason for the employee’s dismissal, the last day of service, the right of appeal and include details of any payments due (e.g. statutory redundancy pay if the employee is eligible for such a payment).

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3.6 Stage 3: Appeal


3.6.1 If an employee wishes to appeal against their dismissal, they should send a letter of appeal to the Director of Human Resources within five working days of receipt of the letter from HR, outlining the grounds of their appeal in full.
3.6.2 On receipt of the letter of appeal, the Director of Human Resources will appoint a manager to hear the appeal (the Appeal Officer).  The Appeal Officer should normally be the line manager of the individual who carried out the Stage 2 meeting or nominee.  
3.6.3 Normally within five working days of the letter of appeal, the employee should receive an invitation to an appeal meeting.  The appeal hearing should take place as soon possible, and before the expiry of the employee’s contract, except in exceptional cases.   The employee should be given at least five working days notice in advance of the appeal hearing.   In some cases, the appeal hearing may have to be heard after the employee’s last date of employment.
3.6.4 In the invitation to the appeal hearing, the employee should be advised of their right to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative.  The role of the colleague or trade union representative at the appeal meeting will be the same as at the Stage 2 meeting (see 3.4.6 for details).
3.6.5 If the employee or their representative is unable to attend the proposed date for the appeal, they should inform the Appeal Officer as soon as possible and suggest any alternative dates when they and their representative (if applicable) are available.  Any alternative date should be reasonable and within five working days after the date proposed by the Appeal Officer.  This five day limited may be extended by mutual consent.
3.6.6 If the employee fails to attend the Appeal for an unforeseen reason, the Appeal Officer will invite the employee to a second Appeal meeting.  If the employee fails to attend the second Appeal meeting for an unforeseen reason, the School reserves the right to consider the appeal in the employee’s absence.
3.6.7 A senior member of the HR Directorate will attend the appeal hearing to advise on procedure.
3.6.8 The employee will be asked to present their case by outlining the reason for their appeal.  The manager who conducted the Stage 2 meeting will be invited to attend to respond to the case or answer questions.  
3.6.9 The decision whether to uphold or reject the appeal will be made by the Appeal Officer, taking into account any advice from the senior member of HR.  The Appeal Officer’s decision will be confirmed in writing on the FT3 form.  A copy of the form will be given to the employee for their records normally within ten working days of the appeal meeting.  A second copy will be sent to HR for retention on the employee’s HR file.  
3.6.10 If the appeal is upheld, the HR Directorate will write to the employee confirming any contractual details with regard to the continuation of their employment.  The employee’s continuity of service will be preserved if the appeal was not heard prior to the expiry of the individual’s appointment.  
3.6.11 If the appeal is rejected, the employee’s contract will terminate as previously confirmed in writing to them by the HR Directorate.  

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4 Definitions



Area: the term area means the relevant Faculty, Directorate or IFCELS.

Service area: Professional Services Directorate such as Library & Information Services, Finance & Planning or Estates & Facilities.

Manager of Service Section:  a manager of a team or section which forms part of a Directorate and will normally report to a Director of Professional Services.

Line manager:  the line manager will be the individual nominated by the Dean of Faculty / Director of Professional Services or Head of IFCELS to have supervisory responsibility over the employee.

Fixed-term employee: an employee whose contract of employment will end on the expiry of a specific date/term or on the completion of a particular act.  This may include appropriate hourly paid or fractional staff.

Comparable permanent employee: a permanent employee who undertakes the same or broadly similar work (having regard, where relevant to the level of qualifications and skills) as a fixed-term employee.   This is a legal term under the “Regulations”.  

Objective justification: is a legal definition under the “Regulations” which largely means a good operational/organisational reason which justifies certain treatment.  Any objective justification has to be aimed at achieving a legitimate objective (e.g. a genuine operational or organisational objective) and must be a necessary and appropriate way of achieving that objective.  JNCHES (see below) have agreed a list of circumstances which constitute objective justifications.  These circumstances are outlined in the relevant sections of Policy on the Employment of Fixed-term Staff.

Joint Negotiation Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES): is a national negotiating body in higher education which includes the Universities & Colleges Employer’s Association (UCEA) who represent Higher Education (HE) employers and five Higher Education trade unions including UCU and Unison.

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This Procedure was approved by UCU, UNISON and Staffing Committee in June 2007.

Revisions to this Procedure were agreed with UCU and UNISON on 18 January 2012.