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Contracts of employment

06 Mar 2018

The broad spectrum of roles within a University and the way in which those roles are funded necessitate a combination of permanent, fixed term and flexible employment contracts

Recently, claims have been made that 75% of staff contracts at the University of Manchester are non-permanent. This was based on data from the 2013-14 HESA Staff Return.

The figures quoted in these claims relate to headcount (rather than worked Full Time Equivalent (FTE) hours) and therefore, give a skewed picture. They relate to high volumes (in terms of headcount) of atypical staff (for example, 2,000+ Graduate Teaching Assistants across various subject areas/disciplines) whereas FTE figures highlight that individuals in this category are employed on low fractional hours.  This group supports teaching under the guidance of substantive academic staff and are predominantly current postgraduate students. 

The University’s Graduate Teaching Assistants are included in the atypical category, along with Visiting Lecturers and demonstrators, etc., although they are employed on fixed-term contracts with agreed terms and conditions and pay rates. 

In order to improve their terms and conditions and in response to discussions with UCU all these staff have had formal University contracts with the same terms and conditions as permanent staff since 2012.

In the more recent 2016-17 HESA return, the atypical staff total FTE is 229 which is significantly different from the 'headcount' of 4,600.

For HESA purposes, the atypical group also includes external fee payments (for one-off pieces of work) where there is no employment relationship and this mechanism simply provides a means of deducting tax and NI payments.

We closely monitor the use of fixed term contracts and the outcome data associated with these i.e. approx. 84% are extended due to refunding or are redeployed. This is monitored through not only the Staffing Committee but also the contracts working group which is made up of ourselves and the three campus trade unions, UCU, UNITE and UNISON.

Our fixed term contracts (or open ended contracts if extended) are used where there is external finite funding or a specific project and this is clear in our contracts of employment policy which was negotiated and agreed with the three campus trade unions. 

Further information

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