Addressing casualisation: improving employment contracts for postgraduate teaching assistants

Addressing casualisation: improving employment contracts for postgraduate teaching assistants

The University of Exeter has announced trailblazing improvements to the contracting arrangements for postgraduate students.

In the past postgraduate students have been engaged by the University to deliver work on a casual basis, which means they have not been able to access the full range of benefits on offer to colleagues on permanent, or fixed term contracts.

To ensure postgraduate students are treated equally to those on similar working patterns, from 24 September 2018, postgraduate students undertaking regular scheduled work will be employed on an annualised contract rather than as casual workers. The new arrangements will run as a pilot in 2018/19 so that we can assess if any further changes are necessary in the future.

The benefits this will bring include:

  • Greater professionalisation of the Postgraduate Teaching Assistant Role, including clear association with the Education and Scholarship Academic terms and conditions of employment.
  • Solid commitment from the University to provide work, and by the employee to undertake the work that has been agreed. 
  • Access to benefits received by employees of the University, including sickness benefits, parental leave, and annual leave.
  • Participation of postgraduate students in induction/probation/training and Performance Development Review procedures (via ePDR) - payment will be made for participating in these activities. 
  • Membership of the University’s pension scheme arrangements “Universities Superannuation Scheme”.
  • Enhancing our students’ experience by supporting our research students to acquire professional and personal skills that will enhance their future employment opportunities.

Communication about this change has been shared with relevant colleagues and students across the University and the People Services team are currently in the process of issuing contracts.

Further information can be found on the main PTA website, and frequently asked questions for managers and postgraduate students/postgraduate teaching assistants can be found on the PTA Guidance for Managers webpages, and the PTA Guidance for Employees webpages. 

However, if you do have further queries that cannot be clarified through the above links, please refer to the following contacts who are available to provide advice relating to these changes.

Date: 18 September 2018

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