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Updated research FAQs: Individual research staff contracts

05 Jun 2020

Frequently asked questions are updated regularly

This advice is correct at the time of publication of this news article.

If you have health concerns then you should refer to the NHS website as recommended by Public Health England. For other queries regarding the current situation, email coronavirus-info@manchester.ac.uk.

We have updated the coronavirus research FAQ to provide additional information on contracts for individual research staff:

Why are contracts for research staff being extended?

These extensions are for the benefit of externally funded research staff, to alleviate some of the concerns and uncertainties for those whose contracts are soon coming to an end.

How will research staff contract extensions be paid for?

Where there are funds on existing research grants/contracts to extend research staff, they should be extended as soon as possible through the PCM approval process. Fully ‘R Code’ funded staff with a contract end date between 30 April and 30 July, who cannot be extended on a research grant/contract, will be extended on University funds. Where a researcher was due to start on a new research grant/contract, but the start date has been delayed, they can be extended on University of Manchester funds until 31 July.

What type / level of work are researchers expected to do if their contract is extended but they had already finished their work? 

As the researcher will no longer be funded by the grant/contract, they should not be expected to deliver against any outstanding objectives of the project. Therefore researchers extended on University funds will be furloughed and cannot then be expected to carry out any work. However, they can carry out training or other activities that will develop their skills or career. The PI should discuss this with them.

It is worth remembering the extension is for the benefit of the individual, not the grant funders or the PI. However, the PI and researcher should discuss and agree if there is residual work from the project that they can do whilst working remotely. If there is work that can be carried out please contact your HR Partner for next steps, as in this case the individual cannot be furloughed.

If the PI extends a researcher on the grant (or moves them to another project), should these funds be used regardless of whether or not the researcher can carry out work remotely?

It does not matter if the work can be carried out remotely or not – the researcher will be extended using the external funds unless the funder explicitly states the funds cannot be used in this way. If the researcher cannot do any work remotely it may be that they can be furloughed. Please contact your HR Partner for next steps if this is the case.

Are we considering split code funded research staff?

No, the SLT decision was in relation to fully R coded staff only.

Will we extend staff who had intended to leave?

No. If, for example an individual has resigned or will be starting another role within the University, their contract will not be extended.

Those research staff who were automatically extended by HR in May – if there were plans to extend them on the grant, should we process PCMs as normal, or should we flag with HR?

If it is possible to extend a researcher’s contract using external funds, please process PCMs as quickly as possible regardless of the researcher’s end date.

What about those who have a contract end date after 31 July?

The University will review the situation nearer the time.

What about those on Extended Project Funding (EPP), i.e. those with over four years’ service who are within the three months’ additional pay?

For staff whose Extended Project Funding commenced prior to 1 May, their EPP will be paused from 1 May and the remainder of the entitlement will then resume after 31 July. For those staff who would have been due to start their Extended Project Funding between 1 May and 31 July, their three month entitlement to EPP will start from 1 August.

If there is funding within the grant and the funder has provided an extension why does a contract extension still have to be approved?

In order to effectively monitor all University expenditure (whether from internal or external sources) and indirect costs associated with research, all PCMs must go through the approved Faculty route. Given the University’s current financial position, where external funds to extend a contract are available, these should always be used ahead of internal funds. Please complete the PCM process as soon as possible.

How do I know if my researcher has been extended?

Individual research staff will receive letters from HR Services before the end of their contract. If they meet the eligibility criteria as outlined in the Principles above, their contract will be extended.

More information