SOAS University of London

Human Resources

General FAQs

  • My department changed its name a few months ago, but the telephone directory still has the old name. What should I do?

    The telephone directory, the sickness absence reporting online forms, managers information reports and other information is derived from the School’s HR/Payroll system.  If the old department name still appears on the telephone directory, this means the HR/Payroll system has not been updated.  You will need to email the Payroll Manager at to notify the new department name.  On receipt of the email, the Payroll Manager will work with HR and LIS staff to update the system which may take a few months.

  • I want to employ someone for a few months to work on an administrative project. How do I go about it?

    You can employ casual staff for less than six months on a temporary contract.  You will need to consider:

    • Whether the worker should be paid on submission of timesheets or whether they should be paid in equal monthly instalments
    • Whether the work they are doing is the same as a current member of staff or whether the work is different and the job will need evaluating to determine the grade and pay.  In the later case, consult your HR Officer on how to write a job description for job evaluation.
    • Whether the worker is eligible to work in the UK.  If they are not eligible to work, a Certificate of Sponsorship will need to obtained before the individual can be employed.  A Certificate is unlikely to be granted for an administrative or part-time role, and the process is lengthy.  

    To employ a casual worker, you will need to

    • complete the   and obtain the necessary authorisation for the form
    • attach the worker’s CV to the Casual Staff Appointment Form
    • The authorised form should be sent to the HR Department who will issue a contract of employment to the worker.  

    You will need to make an appointment for the worker to visit the HR Directorate on, or before their first day to:

  • I want to change the job title of a member of staff; how do I go about changing their contractual details?

    Firstly consult the member of staff on the proposed change and explain the reasons for it, with a view to obtaining their consent the proposal.

    Consider whether their job description will need updating, and if so, update it in consultation with them.

    Following the consultation, you will need to complete a Variation of contract request form (msword; 86kb)  , obtain any authorisation and then send it to the HR Directorate.

    Your designated HR Officer/HR Assistant will issue a letter to the employee confirming the new job title and asking the employee to consent to the change in their contract, by returning a signed copy.  On receipt of the signed copy, the HR-Payroll system will be amended and the employee’s new job title should appear on the telephone directory.

  • A member of staff has resigned; what do I need to do?

    The individual's formal resignation letter should be sent to the Recruitment and Operations team at as soon as possible.

    You should consider whether your employee has any outstanding annual leave to be taken prior to their departure.  Unless their leaving date is 30 September, your employee’s annual leave entitlement will need to be recalculated for the period of the leave year in which they are working. 

    Ensure you discuss leave arrangements with your employee employee on the situation with their leave and inform the Recruitment and Operations team on what has been agreed in regard to leave.  

    Staff are expected to take all of their outstanding annual leave before their last day of employment.  If they cannot take all of their leave, their line manager will need to authorise a payment in lieu.  If the employee has taken more leave then their entitlement, a deduction will be made from their final salary.  Where a payment in lieu is to be made, your employee's annual leave card should be scanned and sent to with the resignation letter.

    You will also need to ensure that your employee has returned all SOAS equipment and property prior to leaving (e.g. ID  card, work laptop or mobile phone, etc).

  • How is annual leave calculated for part-time staff?

    The annual leave entitlement for part-time staff is typically shown in hours (rather than days) because many part-time staff work variable hours on different days.  Annual leave is worked out as proportion of the hours worked by a full-time member of staff, using the part-time employee’s full-time equivalent (FTE).

    The FTE is calculated by dividing the part-time employee's weekly working hours by the full-time weekly working hours available.  An example based on a part-time employee working 14 hours per week is below:

    14 hours  / 35 hours = 0.4 FTE

    A full-time member of staff has 210 hours or 30 days of annual leave, and they accrue leave at a rate of 17.5 hours or 2.5 days per month.  The part-time annual leave entitlement is calculated by multiplying the employee's FTE by the full-time annual leave entitlement in hours.  An employee working 0.4 FTE will be entitled to 84 hours annual leave which is calculated as below:

    0.4 FTE x 210 hours  = 84 hours

    Assistance on calculating annual leave entitlement can be provided by the Recruitment and Operations team, who can be contacted by email at

  • A new employee started work on 1 June; how much annual leave can they take until the next leave year?

    The SOAS annual leave year runs from 01 October to 30 September each year.

    Your new employee will be entitled to a pro-rata annual leave entitlement depending on the number of months (or weeks) they will work during that leave year.

    A full-time member of staff has 210 hours or 30 days of annual leave in a leave year, and they accrue leave at a rate of 17.5 hours or 2.5 days per month.  This is calculated by dividing their annual entitlement by 12, to give a monthly entitlement. 

    If the employee starts on 1 June, they will work for four months in the current leave year, and so they will be entitled to 70 hours or 10 days of annual leave between 01 June and 30 September.  This is calculated as below:

    4 months x 17.5 hours (or 2.5 days) = 70 hours (or 10 days)

    The part-time annual leave entitlement is calculated by multiplying the employee's FTE by the full-time annual leave entitlement in hours.

    Assistance on calculating annual leave entitlement can be provided by the Recruitment and Operations team, who can be contacted by email at

  • A member of staff has asked to work part-time, what should I do?

    If a member of staff is asking to work part-time they have the right to make a flexible working application under the School’s Flexible Working Procedure.

    You can get comprehensive advice on the flexible working procedure and how to handle applications on the Flexible Working FAQ pages of this website.

    If you can agree to the reduction in hours of work, you will need to complete a  Variation of contract request form (msword; 86kb)   and obtain the necessary authorisation from Finance.  The authorised form should then be sent to the Recruitment and Operations team at  

    The Recruitment and Operations team will then issue a letter confirming the new hours of work to the employee, who will be asked to accept the variation to their contract by returning a signed copy of the letter.  On receipt of the signed copy, the necessary amendments to the payroll system will be made.

  • One of my team has announced she is pregnant, what do I need to do?

    All employees who wish to take maternity leave must contact the Recruitment and Operations team at and provide the following information:

    • Confirm in writing the expected week of their childbirth and the date on which they would like to start maternity leave
    • Provide a MATB1 form

    This should be done as soon as possible, as failure to do so can adversely impact on an employee's entitlement to statutory and occupational maternity pay.

    You will also need to arrange for a risk assessment to be conducted for the pregnant employee. Further advice can be obtained from the Maternity Leave Procedure and the Health & Safety Office.

    It is recommended that you discuss with the employee how they wish to be consulted about any changes to their department/work whilst they are is on leave, and how they want to kept up to date with any information required for their role.  In addition, you should discuss whether ‘keeping in touch’ (KIT) days will be used during the period of maternity leave and if so, when these may be and what types of work will be done on the KIT days (e.g. attend departmental meetings, training, etc).

    Under legislation, employers are required to assume that employees will take their full maternity leave (normally 52 weeks); if an employee wishes to return early, they have to notify us in advance.  Sometimes employees wish to return to work on a flexible basis after making a  . Bearing this in mind and that the employee’s plans may be uncertain until after the birth of the child, you may wish to sensitively discuss the planned return to work and when this may be, to help you identify how the role can be covered.

    Obviously you will need to consider how you are going to cover the employee’s absence.  Options include;

    • recruiting a person on a fixed-term contract to cover the employee’s absence
    • asking a colleague to cover the role on an acting basis
    • re-organising duties amongst existing members of the team (e.g. reallocating teaching  and administrative duties etc).  
    • recruiting a member of staff on a fixed-term basis to cover part of the duties.  For example, Teaching and Research positions are normally covered with fixed-term, part-time Teaching and Scholarship roles.

    Further advice can be obtained from the Recruitment and Operations team at

  • How do I arrange for an employee to act up to cover a vacancy?

    If the vacancy is in a team where a number of people could potentially act up to cover the vacancy, remember you will need a fair process to select the person to cover the vacancy.  

    You will need to consider whether the person acting up will cover the all duties of the post or just some of the duties.

    In the first instance (e.g. where an employee is going to cover the entire duties of a role), the individual will be appointed temporarily to that post, and is normally placed on the bottom salary point of the grade (unless this is lower than their current point).  You will need to complete the  Variation of contract request form (msword; 86kb)   to this effect, stating the new job title, grade, hours, end date etc and attach the job description for the acting up role.

    In the second instance, if the person is only covering part of the duties, the employee is normally paid an allowance. Contact your HR Business Partner to discuss how this allowance should be calculated (normally the allowance is based on a proportion of the difference between the individual’s current salary and the salary for the acting post).  The proportion depends on the extent of the duties being covered.   You will need to complete a Variation of Contract form giving details of allowance, end date etc, and either list the duties being covered or ideally attach an addendum to the individual’s job description.

    Once the authorised  Variation of contract request form (msword; 86kb)   has been received, the HR Directorate will issue a letter to the employee confirming the new arrangements.

  • A member of staff wants to take unpaid leave; do I have to agree to their request?

    This depends on the reason why the member of staff wants to take the leave and whether they have a statutory right to take it.

    There are a number of different types of unpaid leave:

    Type of LeaveEntitlementNotes
    Dependents LeaveStatutory entitlementEmergency time off to care for a dependent. This leave cannot be postponed
    Parental LeaveStatutory entitlementParents meeting qualifying criteria, can take unpaid leave to care for their child. If parental leave is taken immediately after a birth of a child (e.g. straight after maternity or paternity leave), it cannot be postponed. In other cases, parental leave can be postponed but not refused
    Public Service LeaveStatutory entitlementUnpaid leave to carryout public duties such as Justice of Peace etc. Requests made in advance & in accordance with School procedure, cannot be unreasonably refused unless there are strong business grounds for refusal.
    Discretionary unpaid leaveNoneThis leave is granted at the School’s discretion

    Full details of each type of leave can be found in the relevant procedure

  • When do I need to get authorisation on a staffing matter?

    If the staffing matter does not require any additional costs (e.g. change of job title), the form can just be authorised by the budget holder, Dean or Director.

    If the staffing matter is to be funded by an external grant (e.g. research grant), the Research Office must authorise the request.

    If staffing matter costs less than £20,000 and the cost is met by existing School budgets it will need authorisation by the budget holder (e.g. Dean, Director) and the Director of Finance.  Any other costs will need to be approved by Executive Board.

    For further information please refer to Staffing Costs: Authorisation Levels.