Vitae has recently published a report on how Higher Education Institutions responded to the changes in employment law surrounding the use of fixed-term contracts.
The key messages for Research Staff are copied below, but you may find it useful to take a look at the entire report (especially if you’re coming to the end of a fixed-term contract) in order to understand what universities have done, what your rights and responsibilities are, and how being moved to an open-ended contract would really affect your job security.
It is important to remember that many research posts are funded by temporary external money which can mean that even if a researcher is moved to an open-ended contract, the funding may run out and the post may end. At Manchester, the researcher is then likely to be placed on the redeployment register in an effort to find suitable continuing employment. Therefore, an open-ended contract is not a guarantee that a researcher will continue in similar employment at the same institution indefinitely.
Other key messages from the Vitae report were:
- A range of initiatives to address the employment, management
and career development of researchers and academic staff
more generally has been developed nationally.
- Recent legislative changes around fixed-term employees seek to
strike a balance between flexibility (for employers) and security
(for employees). They do not seek to abolish or prevent fixed-term
employment. However some key rights and measures have been
- Fixed-term employees have the right not to be treated less
favourably than comparable permanent employees who
undertake the same or broadly similar work unless less
favourable treatment can be justified on objective grounds
Employees who are employed on successive fixed-term
contracts for four years or more are considered by law to be
permanent unless a fixed-term contract can be justified on
- HEIs are autonomous and diverse institutions with different
characteristics and goals. Responses to the legislation, and to
national policies, vary between institutions. Researchers should
therefore identify their institution’s policy.
- It appears that changes to institutional policies are taking time to
become part of working life within departments, groups or teams.
- Some researchers anticipated that a move to open-ended
employment would change things substantially, however a link
between short-term funding and the likely duration of
Read the full report: Fixed-term contracts and the law