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Successive fixed-term contracts

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  • Successive fixed-term contracts

    Hi,

    Before I raise this with my employer I was wondering if I could get some general advice on whether or not I do actually have a case.

    I work at a university. My employment has for the most part been based on external funding but I've had some "stopgap" positions between funding.

    All my positions have been via successive fixed-term contracts. The first of these was for a 3-year externally-funded (salaried) position. The next three contracts were for short-term tutoring positions, paid hourly via timesheets, which never amounted to 1.0 FTE (at most it was around 0.6 FTE). These positions ran for just over a year while looking for further funding. This was found and a new salaried position started. Overall by the end of my current contract my length of service will total just over 7 years.

    At no time was my employment broken. All contracts issued show the same date for the start of continuous employment.

    I was wondering if I might have a case to be transferred to an open-ended contract? This is not out of any expectation of being able to retain my position beyond the current funding but instead to open up potential funding opportunities that are otherwise not available to me (for example, schemes that requirean existing contract of employment that extends for the duration that funding would be secured for).

    Does the fact the short-term contracts were for different work and not full-time make a difference, even though my employment has not been broken since the start of that first contract?

    Any advice would be most welcome and I'm happy to fill in any other details that you might need, so long as I don't give away too much about who my employer actually is.



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  • #2
    I am not so experienced with university contracts but I do know that a lot of research staff are employed on as you say successive fixed term contract based on the external funding for a particular project. However, I do believe that an employee who has been on a fixed term contract for 4 years or more will automatically become a permanent employee, unless the employer can show there is a good business reason not to do so. As a counter to that your university and the recognised union, if there is one, may have made a collective agreement that removes the automatic right to become a permanent employee in these circumstances.

    I have found this document, which although a little bit old does I think have some relevance to your situation.

    https://www.mills-reeve.com/files/Publication/4b619837-ce87-471d-8cd6-6f073c060c2a/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/2f520b54-e72e-45f7-87c4-70ec4a7606c4/2365.pdf

    Not sure if this helps and if this information raises more questions just come back and ask.
    I do my best to provide good practical advice, however I do so without liability.
    If you have any doubts then do please seek professional legal advice.


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    • #3
      Thanks, it was a similar document that led me to start investigating.

      As far as I know thereís no agreement between the union and the university. The university has a policy on converting fixed-term to open-ended on its website.

      The thing I wasnít sure on was the change of role between research contracts and if it might have an impact.

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      • #4
        I believe that the fact you have been employed in different roles is irrelevant, it is about your continuity of employment.

        Since you have had a series of successive fixed term contracts extending beyond 4 years you have become a permanent employee which I believe in your working environment would be considered to be an open-ended contract. This would also be corroborated by the fact that you seem to indicate
        your date for continuous employment on your current fixed term contract is the start date of your first contract with the university, which was just over 7 years ago.
        I do my best to provide good practical advice, however I do so without liability.
        If you have any doubts then do please seek professional legal advice.


        You canít always stop the waves but you can learn to surf.

        You are braver than you believe, smarter than you think and stronger than you seem.



        If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

        Comment

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