My contract

Employees commencing employment from October 2016

All new employees and those employees moving to new posts are on one of the following contracts of employment. All contracts and agreements are now issued by People & Culture.

Employees employed before October 2016

Prior to October 2016, employees will be working under one of the following sets of terms and conditions. These were agreed with the trade unions as part of the National Framework Agreement and implemented on 1 August 2006.

We revised them for the three main employee groups in October 2007 after the University's Statutes and Ordinances were revised. In February and March 2009, there were further amendments to take account of job title changes for academic employees and the introduction of PensionsPlus for all employees.

In October 2009, we amended the rate of the University's contributions to USS; in October 2011, we amended pensions and retirement Information, and in August 2013 we updated them to cover auto-enrolment to our pensions scheme.

Terms of appointment

Fixed-term employees

If you are on a fixed-term contract and approaching your planned contract end date then we would encourage you to speak with your line manager about any concerns. Conversations about other opportunities or possible contract extensions would normally happen towards the end of a contract so line managers will be need to ensure these important conversations still take place.

For those who would want to be considered for redeployment, line managers should contact the Employee Relations Operations team to ensure the details are added to our redeployment register.

Fixed-term contracts guidance and commitment

The mission of the University of Essex is excellence in education and research, for the benefit of individuals and communities. In delivering its mission, the University undertakes a range of different activities, some of which can be planned and resourced well in advance and others that are time-bound or less easily planned for, such as staff absence.

The Essex Staffing Strategy is a commitment to offer long-term and sustainable employment, with a desire to offer permanent roles and minimise the use of fixed-term contracts and other casual forms of engagement, such as on demand roles to which we have made a separate commitment (.pdf).

People are at the centre of the University’s Strategic Plan and the People Supporting Strategy sets out its ambitions to be a great employer. The University’s Strategic Plan 2019-2025 sets out the goal of growing the number of (ASER/ASR) researchers eligible for submission to the next Research Excellence Framework (REF) to 1,000. To support the research and education mission, the University appoints ASER staff wherever possible and appoints staff who are contracted to deliver education and scholarship (ASE) to support specific teaching needs in the delivery of our teaching programmes, where it is not possible to recruit people who have both the skills required to deliver courses and to satisfy the criteria for submission for REF.

However, in some circumstances, the University needs to respond quickly and flexibly where a requirement for time-bound work arises and has set out clear guidance on the use and reasons for using fixed term engagements. The contribution of the fixed-term workforce is as valued as much as that of staff employed by the University on permanent contracts.

The use and operation of fixed-term contracts is set out in a number of published guidance documents which can be used by both managers and employees. All Fixed Term Contracts must be for an objective and justifiable reason (.pdf) and this should be clear and communicated.

Guidance on the use of fixed-term contracts (.pdf) sets out the reasons why we might use a fixed-term contract and how to manage these contracts. This document sets out the process that needs to be followed:

  • if a fixed-term contract is requested
  • how the People and Culture Team monitor and ensure oversight of the justified reason
  • the approach to be followed at the end of a fixed-term contract, whether it is proposed to extend or whether it will come to an end and the support we will provide the employee at that time

Additionally, we have set up a new clear process for employees on a fixed-term contract to have the circumstances around their engagement reviewed and a determination made on whether the role is still justified as a fixed-term contract or whether a permanent engagement is more suited. Fixed-term roles to permanent contracts may also be considered as part of the financial planning process and will be subject to the relevant financial controls and regulations.

Overall, our commitment is that:

  • the use of fixed-term contracts will be kept to a minimum and consistent with legislation
  • any fixed term contract will be for a justifiable reason, will be reviewed by People and Culture and this will be communicated as openly as possible to the employee (subject to any commercial confidence)
  • where the justifying reason for a fixed-term contract is a temporary funding source, the nature of that funding will be communicated as openly as possible to the employee, including the source of the funding and an explanation of why there is a reasonable expectation that the funding is temporary and will not be extended
  • external funding is not, of itself, a justifying reason for the use of a fixed-term contract if there is a reasonable expectation that this funding will be renewed and continued long-term. Whether this is the case will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis
  • the employee will be able to develop skills and experience during the fixed-term contract including taking part in training and development opportunities, which may enable the employee to apply for permanent roles
  • review of fixed-term status: The employee has the right to request a review of their contract if they think the arrangements have evolved into a more sustained or longer-term arrangement that is not reflective of the fixed term role
  • end of a fixed-term contract: The expiration and non-renewal of a fixed-term contract is a dismissal and needs to be treated as such following a fair, agreed process. As the end of the fixed-term contract approaches, and at least one month from the expiration of the contract, the employee is entitled to be considered for other roles on our redeployment list, should they wish to try to remain in employment, or, subject to the circumstances of the role/contract and length of service, receive a redundancy payment. Please note that in certain situations where the role is not redundant, a payment may not be due, but this will be reviewed by the People and Culture team and explained at the time.

Process for reviewing fixed-term contract status

The University of Essex is committed to ensuring that all employees are contracted in a way that reflect the true nature of the work being undertaken, with permanent contracts being offered where the work is of a long-term nature and enduring and affordable. The nature of some of our activity is that some use of fixed-term contracts and other more casual methods of engagement are more appropriate.

The University has set out its policy on the use of contracts

The People and Culture team are responsible for ensuring that appropriate challenge of managers’ use of various contract types is robust and that over-casualisation of our workforce is not taking place.

Unfortunately, some fixed term contracts do persist for an extended period (over 4 years) either in original length or by a succession of fixed-term of other contract types. This process allows an individual to ask for their contract to be reviewed and to either be transferred to a permanent contract if that is appropriate or be given an explanation of why their employment at the University of Essex needs to remain on a fixed-term basis.


  1. If an employee has less than 4 years’ continuous service their entitlement to review of their contract is outlined in the guidance and commitment information above.
  2. The employee should submit the review request to their line manager stating that they wish their contractual status to be reviewed and setting out why and how they have been contracted with the University of Essex continuously through their employment.
  3. The line manager should acknowledge the request within 5 working days of receipt of the request. Should any clarification of the evidence or outcome required this should be sought before proceeding to the next stage. This may (but not always) involve a meeting with the employee.
  4. The line manager should meet with a member of the People and Culture team (SERA/FERA) to discuss the application and to check that the personnel record matches the employee’s record of their contractual status. The manager should review the nature of the work being undertaken and the likelihood of this either already being long-term and enduring or likely, in the short-term, to be long-term and enduring. Should the work be of fixed duration or otherwise irregular in nature then the nature of this should be understood and set out.
  5. Normally only posts agreed during the planning round will be budgeted and this policy does not intend to change the University’s policy on this]. However, this will not prejudice the judgement of whether the work undertaken by the employee is already or likely in the near future to be long-term and enduring and a case is to be made in the planning round.
  6. Where staff are appointed to cover a limited proportion of the activities within an established substantive position, but not the full role, then this policy will not apply. If the full remit of the role is subsequently advertised, the person covering it has an opportunity to apply for the role, but they have no automatic right to be slotted into it, because the role is materially different.
  7. The review should be completed within 28 days of the request being received. Should any delay occur (such as through staff sickness etc.), this should be communicated to the employee and a revised timeline advised.
  8. Should the review decide that the employee should be legitimately transferred onto a permanent contract then this should be communicated to them and the correct contract issued and systems updated, subject either to an in-year business case or agreement of permanency through the annual planning round.
  9. Where a newly permanent contract comes with additional probation requirements, the employee’s length of previous employment with the University will be taken into consideration when determining those new requirements. This policy is not intended to circumvent pathway to permanency or academic promotion requirements. Each case will be determined on its merits with an aim that a person should not be subject to repeated probation periods in the same role.
  10. Should the review decide that the existing arrangements are the most appropriate contractual arrangements then this should be communicated to the employee with an explanation of why this is so. This decision may be given in a meeting between the line manager and employee but in any event should be confirmed in writing.
  11. If an individual wishes to appeal against the decision, they should refer to the University of Essex grievance procedure.
  12. Employees are entitled to union representation throughout the process.

On-demand Worker commitment

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