SOAS University of London

Human Resources

Fractional FAQs

  • What is the difference between a Teaching Fellow and a fractional Teaching Fellow?

    Most non-fractional Teaching Fellows work full-time.  Fractional Teaching Fellows work part-time.

    The difference between a Teaching Fellow and a fractional Teaching Fellow is to do with the way the hours of work are calculated.   A Fractional Teaching Fellow is part-time and employed on a small ‘fraction’ of a full-time equivalent (FTE).  The Fractional Teaching Fellow’s FTE or hours of work are calculated according to the number of contact teaching hours worked which are then multiplied to take account of additional duties such as preparation and marking.  Some fractional staff are also paid ‘plain time’ hours which are not multiplied.  For further information on how this is calculated, see below.

    The terms of conditions of employment for Teaching Fellows and Fractional Teaching Fellows are largely the same; however, Fractional Teaching Fellows will have additional special contractual clauses (e.g. relating to their fraction, hours of work and annual leave etc).

  • What is a Graduate Teaching Assistant?

    Graduate Teaching Assistants or GTAs are employed as part of a programme aimed at providing training opportunities and teaching work experience for SOAS research students.  The School recognises the need to maintain a number of teaching posts to help with the training of PhD students who intend to pursue an academic career.  

    To be employed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, an individual must be a SOAS PhD student, normally in their second, third or fourth year of study.  They are expected to undertake a (four-module) training programme focusing on seminar/tutorial teaching skills and the role of a GTA at SOAS. PhD students must have undertaken the 3 day Core Units of the Professional Development in Higher Education Programme (PDHEP) prior to commencing teaching as a GTA.

    GTA’s are normally offered fixed-term employment for up to a maximum of two years as a career development opportunity to allow them to gain teaching experience to further their academic career.  In exceptional cases, posts can be for no more than three years with the approval of the Dean.

    Recruitment of new staff each year for GTA positions is a recognised priority so that as many PhD students as possible can benefit from the scheme.

    Individual contracts should be for a maximum of 10 months, with hours of work determined according to the teaching requirements of the course, although these hours should not exceed 8 contact (teaching) hours per week in total in term time. Application must be made for each year in post via the School’s recruitment process for GTA staff.

    GTAs are employed on Grade 6 on a job description which is based on the National Role Profile Level 1. The convening of courses, course design, major responsibility for lecture courses or examination (other than of course work) and all post-graduate teaching will not be required of GTAs.
    Every GTA will be allocated a mentor (normally the course convenor) who will induct, guide and monitor the performance (e.g. supervise probation etc) of the GTA.  Each mentor will observe one class in the first five weeks of term.

    Their contractual terms and conditions of employment are the same as other fractional teachers.

    Further information can be found in the GTA Training Scheme

  • How long can a Graduate Teaching Assistant work for?

    A Graduate Teaching Assistant will normally be offered a fixed-term contract of a maximum of two years.  In exceptional cases, the Dean may approve a further one year extension under the programme, but no GTA can be employed for more than three years on the training programme.  

  • How are the hours of work calculated for a fractional member of staff?

    The hours of work for a fractional teacher are calculated by looking at two factors; contact teaching hours and ‘plain time hours’.

    The School recognises that for each hour of contact teaching time in the classroom the fractional member of staff will need to carryout additional duties such as preparation etc (see below for further information).  To calculate how much time the employee will need to spend on these additional duties, the total contact teaching hours are increased by a ‘multiplier’ that is determined by grade and the duties of the post.   The multiplier for teachers on Grade 6 is 2.5; the multiplier for staff on Grades 7 to 9, is 3.


    Agatha Runcible works 22 contact teaching hours and is employed on Grade 7.  Her multiplied hours are 66 which are calculated as follows:

    22 x 3 = 66.

    Miles Malpractice works 60 contact teaching hours on Grade 6.  His Grade is 6.    His multiplied hours are 150, which are calculated as follows:
    60 x 2.5 = 150

    In addition, some fractional staff are required to carryout some tasks (e.g. attending meetings etc) which do not need to be multiplied.  These are referred to as ‘plain time hours’.

    The multiplied hours and the plain time hours are added together to get the total hours of work for each fractional teacher.  These are then divided by the total hours of work of a full-time equivalent excluding annual leave, which is 1524 hours per annum.  This will give the FTE or ‘fraction’ for the Fractional teacher, which is used to calculate their salary payment.


    Agatha Runcible works 22 contact teaching hours and 14 hours of plain-time and is employed on Grade 7.

    Her 22 contact teaching hours equate to a total multiplied hours of 66.

    22 x 3 = 66.  

    Her total hours of work (both multiplied contact teaching hours and plain time hours) are 80

    66 + 14 = 80.

    Her FTE is 0.05 FTE

    80 ÷ 1524 = 0.05 FTE.

  • What is included in multiplied hours?

    Different arrangements apply to staff in IFCELS and the Language Centre.  You can find out information from your employment contract and contact your HR Officer for further information.  

    For Faculty based fractional teachers, the multiplied hours cover duties associated with classroom teaching and include;

    • Classroom contact teaching time
    • Class preparation
    • Administration
    • Some coursework assessment (up to set limits of one essay per student per term)

    Class preparation and administration covers a number of activities, determined by the Head of Department including;

    •  Preparing teaching materials required for classroom teaching, including audiovisual aids, notes and handouts;
    •  Updating the Virtual Learning Environment
    •  (In language-based subjects): Finding text or other materials suitable for translation
    • Maintenance of class registers
    •  Liaison with the Faculty Office and/or Head of Department, Course Director or Convenor as required.
  • What activities are paid at plain time hours?

    The activities that are paid at plain time rates will be notified to each teacher by their Faculty/Head of Department.  For Faculty fractional teachers, plain time hours cover duties including

    • Examination board attendance
    • Attendance at required departmental meetings
    • Office hours
    • Dissertation supervision and marking
    • Lecture attendance where requested in advance by the Head of Department for pedagogical reasons
    • Additional coursework marking (where this is above the limits in the multiplier or marking on someone else's course) 
    • Exam marking


    IFCELS teachers have different local arrangements for plain time payments and different activities included in the multiplier.  Language Centre teachers also have different local arrangements.  

  • Does each fractional contract only cover teaching on one individual course?

    No, normally, each fractional teacher should receive one contact combining all the teaching they are doing for you (in effect a total hours contract covering all their courses).

    There are however, some exceptions to this;

    • if a teacher is teaching in more than one department
    • if the teacher is paid from more than one cost code
    • if some (but not all) of the work that the teacher will be doing is covering for staff absence
    • if the duties for the teacher’s different courses are on different grades/job descriptions


    The ‘Fractional Staff Total Hours Contract: Decision Path for Employing Departments’  will help you determine when you can total all the hours of work that a teacher will be doing and when you will need to submit separate requests for a number of contracts.

  • Can a fractional member of staff decide over what period of time they can be paid?

    All permanent fractional staff are paid over twelve months.

    Fixed-term fractional staff can choose to be paid in equal instalments over the following pay periods according to the number of terms they are working.

    Period of ContractsChoice of Pay Periods
    Staff working one term4 months12 months
    Staff working two terms7 months12 months
    Staff working three terms10 months12 months
    Staff working three terms plus summer courses12 months


    Fixed-term fractional members of staff cannot elect to be paid over different periods than those outlined above (e.g. a fractional teacher working two terms cannot choose to be paid over less than 7 months).
    Each fractional member of staff’s pay periods must cover at least one additional month over the School recess periods to ensure that they are paid during their holiday period.

    However, the School recommends to fractional teachers that they elect to be paid in twelve equal instalments to ensure that their entitlement to the following benefits are not adversely effected:

    • Statutory maternity and Occupational maternity pay
    • Statutory adoption and Occupational adoption pay
    • Statutory and Occupational Paternity pay
    • Statutory sick pay
  • Do I need to advertise a fractional post or can I just appoint someone?

    All posts of over six months’ duration must be advertised in line with the School’s Equality and Diversity Policy and Recruitment Policy. Fractional staff working over six months cannot simply be ‘appointed’ without a fair selection process.

    It is recommended that new fractional vacancies are advertised on the School’s Job site, during the Web Recruitment System.   Faculties/Departments  may also choose to advertise fractional vacancies using all-faculty emails, student notice boards and the careers service (e.g. for a Graduate Teaching Assistant) etc.

    Standard job descriptions exist for fractional posts which include person specifications, which can be altered where indicated; please ensure that any changes to duties/criteria remain within the normal expectations of the role.  Further advice can be obtained from your designated HR Officer.   Candidates should be given access to the job description and person specification for the vacancy.

    Each Faculty/Department should select applicants for fractional posts based solely on the criteria set out in the person specification and the reasons for selection decisions relating to this criteria must be recorded.  Advice on selection methods including shortlisting, interviewing and selection tests can be found on the recruitment pages of the HR website.

    The Recruitment Policy allows some exemptions for advertising – for example, if a vacancy constitutes a redeployment opportunity for a fixed-term fractional teacher whose post is due to expire.  If a vacancy constitutes a redeployment opportunity for several fractional teachers whose contracts are expiring, the post should be advertised to all affected staff (e.g. a ring-fenced advertisement).

  • What is the appointment procedure for new fractional teachers?

    Once the selection process has been completed, you will need to;

    1. Ensure that there is budget approval for the appointment (Faculty Administrators are responsible for checking budget availability)
    2. If the teacher requires a Market Rate Supplement (MRS), please ensure that a full written evidenced case has been made and the Dean has approved the MRS.
    3. Heads of Department will be asked to approve the planning grid/budget spreadsheet to confirm that the appointment details are correct.  If the post is research funded, you will also need to obtain authorisation from the Research Office.
    4. The hours of work will need agreeing with the teacher – normally this is done by the Head of Department (or delegate).
    5. Once the post (and MRS if applicable) have been approved, the Faculty/IFCELs office should email the teacher confirming the details of the appointment (grade, spinal point, hours, start and end date, information about the pay calculator, objective justification per course etc).  The standard email template should be used, modified as required.
    6. The Faculty Office/IFCELs administrator will now enter the teacher’s details on the HR-Payroll system, ResourceLink.  This acts as an instruction to HR and Payroll.
    7. Core HR will now generate a contract of employment for the teacher.
    8. The contract of employment will be sent via email/Sharepoint to the Faculty Administrator.
    9. The Faculty Administrator will check the contract (e.g. against the approved planning grid/budget spreadsheet) and then forward this to the teacher.
    10. The teacher will download their contract which will include forms and an invitation to attend a HR induction.
    11. The teacher must attend HR induction before they start work – this is to ensure that we comply with our legal requirement to verify eligibility to work.  At induction:
      • Documents proving eligibility to work will be checked
      • Signed contracts obtained
      • Pension and tax forms are completed
      • Induction forms including bank details are supplied by the teacher.
        Existing staff may be required to attend induction if their eligibility to work needs re-verifying. 

    New teachers cannot start work or be paid without attending induction.

    Existing teachers have to have returned signed contracts of employment before they receive any payment; and may also need to provide updated eligibility to work, pension and tax information in order to be paid correctly. 

    1. Core HR and Payroll will now complete the teacher’s HR-Payroll ResourceLink record and activate it for payment once the teacher has attended induction and/or provided the appropriate documentation (e.g. signed contract etc).
  • What documents are acceptable as proof of eligibility to work for a fractional member of staff?

    The HR Directorate are responsible for checking a teacher’s right to work in the UK at HR induction before the teacher starts work.  Faculties/IFCELS must ensure that the teacher is entered on ResourceLink (the HR-Payroll system) in good time to ensure that this induction process can take place before the teacher is due to start work.

    If due to exceptional reasons you have not complied with School policy and you have appointed a teacher but do not ensure that their details are entered on ResourceLink before the teacher starts work, you are responsible for ensuring that the teacher has the right to work in the UK by verifying eligibility to work in person.
    The following documents are accepted as evidence of entitlement to work in the UK:

    • A UK passport
    • A passport or national identity card of an European Economic Area (EEA) state and if relevant, any worker registration or supporting documentation
    • A passport from a non-EEA state, with the relevant endorsement (e.g. visa stamp etc) showing that the holder is permitted to live and take employment in the UK, and if relevant, any additional required documentation (e.g. documentation from the UK Borders Agency, evidence of student status, particularly if a non-SOAS student).

    Further advice can be obtained from your designated Human Resources Officer.

  • How do I extend the fixed-term contract for a fractional member of staff?

    Your designated HR Officer should contact you about three to four months prior to the fixed-term expiry date for the fractional member of staff.  In accordance with the School’s Procedure for the Expiry of Fixed-term Teaching and Scholarship, Research and Support Staff Groups, our Human Resources Officer will ask you to consult the fractional teacher about their expiry of your contract using the FT2 form as a basis for the consultation.  You should explain to the fractional teacher, why you want to extend your contract, the terms and the objective justification why their contract will remain fixed term.

    If the contract is to be extended, you will need to follow the appointment process outlined above (see Question: What is the appointment procedure for new fractional teachers?)   so that the teacher can be given a new contract on ResourceLink.

    The core HR section will then issue a letter to the employee extending their contract of employment.  The employee will be asked to sign and return this letter prior to any payment being made.

    You will also need to arrange for the fractional teacher’s SOAS identify card to be extended.

  • What do I do when a fractional member of staff’s contract is expiring?

    Your designated HR Officer should contact you about three to four months prior to the fixed-term expiry date for the fractional member of staff.

    In accordance with the School’s Procedure for the Expiry of Fixed-term Teaching and Scholarship, Research and Support Staff Groups, our Human Resources Officer will ask you to consult the fractional teacher about their expiry of your contract using the FT2 form as a basis for the consultation.  You should explain to the fractional teacher, why the post is expiring and it is not possible to extend their contract.  You should also discuss any redeployment opportunities, any support the teacher may need to assist with their job search and refer them to the School’s job pages.   Explain to the teacher that they have a right to appeal against the ending of their contract.  Further guidance can be found in the Procedure for the Expiry of Fixed-term Support, Research and Teaching & Scholarship Staff Groups.

    It is important that you complete the consultation process in a timely manner as soon as you have received the FT2 form, to ensure that the teacher is given notice that their contract is ending and time to explore redeployment and other options.

    You will need to send the completed FT2 form to HR as soon as possible.  HR will write to the fractional teacher confirming the expiry of their employment.  The Payroll section will make any necessary pension arrangements and issue the teacher’s P45 as appropriate.

  • How many additional hours can a fractional member of staff work before I have to ask for their contract to be varied?

    A fractional teacher can work up to an additional 0.01 FTE per term, on an ad-hoc basis, in addition to the hours that have already been specified on their employment contract.  
    This equates to:

    • 15 hours of plain time
    • 6 hours of contact teaching time with a multiplier of 2.5 (e.g. at Grade 6)
    • 5 hours of contact teaching time with a multiplier of 3 (e.g. at Grade 7 and above).

    In such cases, the additional hours can be processed using the monthly Ad Hoc Hours Spreadsheet. 

    In addition, payments for GTA training and additional marking (Faculties only) can be paid using Ad-Hoc Payments.  Where the ad-hoc payment for marking is above 0.01FTE, the Faculty will need to update the teacher's FTE and salary on ResourceLink. 

     The employing department should upload the monthly Ad Hoc Hours Spreadsheet to SharePoint* so that it can be authorised by the Faculty Administrator/IFCELS Head of Teaching & Learning and then automatically sent to Payroll for payment.  Payroll will upload the Ad Hoc Hours Spreadsheet directly onto ResourceLink for payment.

    However, if the fractional teacher’s FTE is increasing by more than 0.01FTE, the teacher’s contract will require varying and their ResourceLink records updating.  For example, if the teacher is undertaking 16 hours of additional plain time or 7 additional contact teaching hours, you cannot use the Ad Hoc Hours Spreadsheet. Instead, following Faculty/IFCELs authorisation, the employing department will need to update the teacher’s ResourceLink record with details of the new hours of work.

    If the payments for any additional will be funded by research grants, these will also need authorisation by the Research Office in addition to the Faculty Administrator/IFCELS Head of Teaching & Learning.

    *August 2014: SharePoint ad hoc hours workflows are unfortunately currently unavailable; please email any Ad Hoc Hours Spreadsheets to Payroll.

  • I want to change the hours of work for a fractional member of staff, what should I do?

    You will need to consult the member of staff about varying their contractual hours of work, with a view to gaining their agreement for the change.  The additional hours will need to be authorised by the Head of Department/Faculty Administrator.  If the additional hours will be funded by a research grant, approval will also be needed from the Research Office.

    If the variation is for more than 0.01 FTE per term , following consultation with the employee and authorisation for the additional hours, ResourceLink will need to be updated with the new hours of work.  HR will use the updated information on ResourceLink to generate a contract variation letter.  This contract variation letter will be sent to the Faculty Administrator/IFCELs Head of Teaching & Learning for authorisation.  The Faculty Administrator will forward the  letter to the teacher by email/Sharepoint.  Teachers will be required to return their signed variation of contract before any payment can be made.  Once their returned signed letter is received, the teacher’s ResourceLink record will be updated and payments generated for the new hours of work. 

    If the change in hours is for less than 0.01 FTE per term, or is for work other than the GTA training payment/additional marking, please use the Ad hoc Hours Spreadsheet.

  • How can I transfer a fractional member of staff onto a permanent contract?
    Fixed-term employees should be regularly reviewed at workforce planning meetings to see if there remains a valid objective justification for employment continuing on a fixed-term basis.  Where a decision has been taken to transfer a teacher to a permanent contract, approval will be needed from Executive Board.
    You or your Faculty Office/IFCEL administrator will need to update the teacher’s ResourceLink records.  In order to do this, the Faculty Office/IFCELs administrator will need to email their Payroll Administrator requesting a new permanent post to be set up for the teacher on ResourceLink.  Once this has been done, the Faculty/IFCELs should transfer the teacher to the new permanent post on ResourceLink.   
    The Core Human Resources team will issue a letter to the individual confirming that they are now employed on a permanent basis.  The individual will be asked to sign the letter to confirm they have agreed the change to their contract of employment.  Once the signed, returned letter has been received, the individual’s Payroll records will be amended.
  • I want to upgrade a fractional member of staff: how do I go about this?

    You will need to submit a Grading Review Request in line with the School’s Grading Review Procedure and Appeals Procedure.  

    To do this, you will need to send to the Human Resources the following:

    • A Grading Review Form (GR1)
    • A structure chart showing how the role fits into the department and the overall structure of your Faculty or Directorate
    • One of the following:
      • EITHER A new or amended Role Outline form (with changes tracked electronically or a detailed written statement of the revised section) 
      • OR A nationally agreed Role Profile with the grading review statement indicating why it is more appropriate than that used to currently grade the post

    For fractional teachers, it is recommended that you use a nationally agreed Role Profile (Teaching and Scholarship) as Role Outline Forms have not previously been completed for fractional staff.

    The information you submit to the Human Resources Directorate, will be evaluated using the HERA role analysis scheme.  These results, together with your original documentation will be submitted to a Grading Review Panel who will determine whether the post should be re-graded.

    Appeals can be submitted against the decision of Grading Review Panels in accordance with the Grading Review Procedure and Appeals Procedure.

    Please note that a fractional member of staff should not be upgraded by updating ResourceLink until the Grading Review Process has been completed.

  • A fractional member of staff has told me she’s pregnant; do I need to do anything?

    All employees who wish to take maternity leave must

    1. confirm in writing the following information

    • that they are pregnant
    • the expected week of their childbirth
    • the date on which they would like to start maternity leave

    2. provide a MATB1 form

    Please ensure that the employee has written to their designated HR Officer notifying them of this information, as failure to do so, can adversely impact on the individual’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 she is on leave, and how she wants to kept up to date with any information required for her role.  In addition, you should discuss whether she would like to come to work for ‘keeping in touch’ (KIT) days during her maternity leave and if so, when these may be and what types of work will she do on her 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, she has to notify HR providing 8 weeks written notice.  Sometimes employees wish to return to work on a flexible basis after making a flexible working application. Bearing this in mind and that the employee’s plans may be uncertain until after the birth of her child, you may wish to sensitively discuss her planned return to work and when this may be, to help you identify how her role can be covered.

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

    • recruiting another fractional teacher on a fixed-term contract to cover the employee’s absence
    • re-organising duties amongst existing members of the team (e.g. reallocating teaching and administrative duties etc). 

    It is important to note that employees on maternity leave (depending on the length of their leave) have the right to return to the same or equivalent job.  If you replace the individual during their leave, it can only be for a fixed-period to cover their absence; you cannot permanently reallocate their courses or work to another individual and end the individual’s employment with SOAS.

    Further advice can be obtained from your designated HR Officer.

  • One of my fractional members of staff is unwell; what is the procedure?

    You need to follow the same sickness absence reporting process as for any other member of staff.  You will need to complete the online Sickness Reporting Form to notify the Payroll team of the member of staff’s absence and when they have returned to work.

    Alternatively, the member of staff can use the online reporting form to notify Payroll directly of their absence.  This will then automatically notify designated staff in your department or Faculty.

  • What should I do about the high number of student complaints about a fractional teacher?

    You will need to investigate the complaints to identify if the teacher is performing satisfactorily.  If the teacher is not performing to the required standards, you will need to hold an informal Performance Monitoring Interview with the teacher to try to improve their performance.  Step-by-step guidelines  explain how to hold the meeting which will enable you to:

    • identify the causes of any performance problems
    • identify if there are any problems (e.g. personal, work etc) impacting on the teacher’s performance
    • clarify the standards of work you require
    • set timed performance objectives for the teacher to achieve
    • agree any training or support to help them improve


    Further advice on how to hold the Performance Monitoring Interview can be obtained from your designated HR Manager or HR Officer.  

    You will need to hold at least one informal performance monitoring interview with the member of staff, if the member of staff fails to improve to the required levels and meet their objectives, you should then contact your designated Human Resources Manager about initiating the formal disciplinary procedure.

  • What should I do about a fractional member of staff who has resigned?

    You will need to complete the Fractional Staff Resignation Form.  You should attach the email or letter of resignation from the employee to this form.  Send both documents (password protected) to the Payroll and Pensions Team of the Human Resources Directorate no later than the 14th of the preceding month before the fractional teacher leaves employment.  If the fractional teacher has resigned but given notice and therefore you cannot notify Payroll within these timescales, please contact Payroll immediately to try to prevent an overpayment.
    Any delays in sending the Fractional Staff Resignation Form to Payroll could lead to an overpayment to the individual which it may be difficult to reclaim.

    If you wish to advertise the vacant fractional post on the School’s Job pages, please contact your designated Human Resources Officer.

  • What is an objective justification and why do I need to have one in a fractional teacher’s contract?

    An objective justification is a legal definition essentially meaning a good business or objective reason which justifies why a contract is fixed-term rather than permanent.  The term has arisen from legislation protecting fixed-term workers; one of the objectives of the legislation is to ensure employers only employ staff on a fixed-term basis if there are genuine reasons for doing so.

    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 proportionate means of achieving that objective.  Essentially, there must be a genuine and real operational reason for a fixed-term post – you cannot just invent a reason for the post being fixed-term.  

    At SOAS, fixed-term employees including fractional teachers come under the School’s Policy on the Employment of Fixed-term Staff.  This policy sets out a list of objective justifications that the School uses when employing fixed-term staff.  The list is based on a national agreement between higher education employers (UCEA) and the recognised trade unions (including UCU and UNISON).

    To ensure that SOAS complies with the relevant legislation, all fixed-term staff must have an objective justification in their contract of employment justifying why the appointment is made on a fixed-term rather than permanent basis.  When updating ResourceLink, you will need to include the relevant objective justification for any fixed-term post, so this can be included in the contract of employment.

  • Which objective justification should I use?

    The School’s Policy on the Employment of Fixed-Term Staff lists a number of objective justifications or reasons why a fixed-term contract can be used.

    You will need to look at the list and decide which is the most appropriate to use.  The following guidance explains the types of situation which the list of objective justification covers.  

    When covering a vacancy and there is no one else with the expertise or experience to provide such cover.
    • If you have a course which requires specific expertise, knowledge or experience but no one in SOAS currently has those attributes and you are advertising a vacancy so that the these skills can be required on a permanent, on-going basis, you can justify a fixed-term post to cover the vacancy.  In such cases, use:


    a. The post requires specialist expertise or recent experience not already available in SOAS in the short-term.

    • In addition, you can also use this objective justification when you are planning to request a new substantive position but the new position has not been approved.  In such cases, the teaching duties of the new post can be temporarily covered using the justification above.
    •  However, you cannot normally use this objective justification long-term to justify renewals of the individual’s contract; once you have recruited a fractional member of staff with the required expertise/experience, it is not possible to argue that the expertise/experience is not available in SOAS in the short term!


    When covering a substantive post frozen by Executive Board on an interim basis
    • When a substantive post has been frozen by Executive Board and the employing department has not had a approval to recruit to the post, the following objective justification should be used:


    a. The post requires specialist expertise or recent experience not already available in SOAS in the short-term.

    • However, this reason cannot be used to justify renewals to fixed-term contracts indefinitely; after no more than four years, the position should be reviewed to establish if the position is required on a permanent fractional basis.


    Covering skills/experience gaps in the short-term whilst permanent employees acquire the relevant expertise/experience.


    • Where a post requires experience or expertise that you are training a member of staff to carry out in the future, but at the present time there is no one able to provide that experience/skills, the following objective justification could be used:

    a. The post requires specialist expertise or recent experience not already available in SOAS in the short-term.

    Where a post requires experience or expertise not possessed by current SOAS staff but the role is not needed permanently
    • You may be able to use the following objective justification if a fractional teacher has expertise or recent experience that no one else in SOAS does, and that the expertise is not required on on-going basis,

    a. The post requires specialist expertise or recent experience not already available in SOAS in the short-term.

    • However, if you require the experience/expertise on an on-going basis, the appointment should be permanent.


    Covering absence
    • When you are recruiting a fractional teacher to cover a staff absence like maternity leave, research leave, unpaid leave or a long-term sickness absence, use the following objective justification;

    b. To cover staff absence such as research leave, maternity leave or long-term sickness absence

    • This objective justification can also be used to cover staff who absent from normal teaching duties due to temporary secondments to administrative roles such as Head of Department or Associate Dean.


    Graduate Teaching Assistants
    •  The Graduate Teaching Assistant scheme is designed to provide career development opportunities for SOAS PhD students.
    •  So when appointing any Graduate Teaching Assistant, you should use the following objective justification:

    c. The contract is to provide a secondment or career development opportunity.

    • You may also wish to use a second objective justification if another one also applies – for example a Graduate Teaching Assistant may also be covering a staff absence so you should use both b and c.


    Secondments and career development opportunities
    • If you are giving a fractional teacher a secondment or career development opportunity, it is possible to use the following objective justification;

    c. The contract is to provide a secondment or career development opportunity.

    • For example, if you are seconding a teacher from the Language Centre to a Department in the Faculty (e.g. to give them experience of postgraduate teaching etc), it would be appropriate to use this objective justification.  However, if the transfer to the Faculty was on an on-going basis rather than for a fixed period, the appointment should be made for on a permanent basis.


    Project work or activity lasting for a fixed period such as course development
    • If you require a fractional teacher to work on a project or activity which lasts for a fixed time, it is possible to use the following objective justification:

    d. Where input from specialist practitioners is required for a limited period or for a project/activity lasting for a limited duration.  

    •  An example, could be a fractional teacher working on setting up and developing a new course.  However, once the initial project and activity has been completed, it may not be possible to justify further renewals of the teacher’s contract using this reason.  For example, once the teacher has set up the course and the course is on-going, this reason no longer applies.  If demand for the newly established course can be demonstrated to be uncertain, it may be possible to use a different objective justification (see below).


    Teaching from specialist practitioners for a limited duration
    •  If a course requires some specialist teaching from practitioners for a limited period (such as lawyers teaching a few lectures or a module), then the following objective justification can be used;

    d. Where input from specialist practitioners is required for a limited period or for a project/activity lasting for a limited duration.  

    • This objective justification cannot be used if you cannot demonstrate that the work or teaching is of limited duration; if the specialist input is needed on an on-going basis, the role should be permanent.
    Uncertain student numbers
    • Where a new course is being developed and/or where it is hard to predict if the new course will attract sufficient student numbers, it is possible to use the following objective justification.

    e. Where student or other business demand can be clearly demonstrated as particularly uncertain, such as the development of a new course or service.

    • However, if and when the course becomes established and student numbers are no longer uncertain, it will not be possible to use this objective justification.
    • If you are renewing the contract (e.g. by issuing another contract) a fractional teacher who was employed on a fixed-term contract for this basis, and you feel that student numbers/demand continues to be particularly uncertain, you will need to be able to demonstrate this (e.g. with student records data for the past few years showing significant fluctuations in student numbers).
    External funding for a limited period
    • If a fractional teacher’s post is funded from external funds which are for a limited time only (e.g. not on an on-going basis), the appointment can be made on a fixed-term basis providing that there is no prospect of the funding being renewed or internal funding becoming available.  In such cases, use the following objective justification;


    f. Externally funded posts where there is no reasonably foreseeable prospect of short-term funding being renewed nor other external or internal funding becoming available.  Where short-term funding has already been renewed, continuing use of the fixed-term contract would need to be justified by objective reasons.

    • If any subsequent renewals of the teacher’s contract are externally funded and the funding is only for a set period, you will still need to justify why the contract remains fixed term. You would have to demonstrate this by showing there is no available internal funding and no other prospective sources of external funding.


    Where a course is ending

    • If a course/module is going to end (for example at the end of next academic year) but the course is still on the current programme and has students enrolled on it, and therefore you require a teacher until the course finishes, you should use the following objective justification:

    g. Where the post is wholly or largely supporting a specific business or academic function/activity which the School has decided to cease in the future.

    Where an academic programme or activity is ceasing, for example following a re-structuring
    • If due to restructuring, or for other business reasons, your Faculty have decided to end a particular programme or activity in the future, but at the present time, a teacher is working on that activity, they can be employed on that activity on a fixed-basis until there is no longer a requirement for that role.  An example would be if the School decides to contact out human resource services to an external agency at a given date in the future, HR staff could be employed on a fixed-term basis until the new agency takes over.
    • In such cases, use the following objective justification:


    h. Where the post is wholly or largely supporting a specific business or academic function/activity which the School has decided to cease in the future.

  • None of the objective justifications in the School’s Employment of Fixed-term Policy apply – what should I do?

    If none of the listed objective justifications apply to your case, please consult your designated HR Manager.  

    If you have a good business reason for a post being fixed-term which is not included in the list, consultation with both the School’s recognised unions will need to be carried out on the reason.  Working with your HR Manager, you will need to succinctly phrase the ‘objective justification’ to be inserted into the contract of employment but also provide a more detailed explanation, together with any supporting evidence, to be presented to the trade unions.  Any new objective justification will need to be approved by the HR Director before it can be used.  This process may take some time, particularly the consultation with the School’s unions, so it is important to contact your designated HR Manager as soon as possible, early in the recruitment/appointment process.  Be mindful that the consultation with the unions may not be successful – UCU wish to see a reduction in fixed term contracts and the use of objective justifications at SOAS, rather than an increase.

    If there is no good business reason for a post being fixed-term, you should not simply invent a reason.  Under the relevant legislation, the reason for any fixed-term post must be genuine and meet operational/organisational needs.  Don’t just appoint a fractional teacher on a fixed-term contract simply because they are a fractional teacher, most of whom are fixed-term.

    If there is no objective justification for the fractional teacher being appointed on fixed-term basis, their contract of employment with the School should be on a permanent basis.

    It is worth remembering that if circumstances change (for example if a programme is ended etc) and there is no longer any requirement for the teaching work to be carried out, both fixed-term and permanent fractional teachers can be made redundant.  Both permanent and fixed-term staff who meet qualifying criteria, are eligible for statutory redundancy pay.