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Guidance on the Non Renewal of a Fixed Term Contract procedure

This procedure only applies for employees where the reason for the non renewal of the fixed-term contract is not redundancy.

In good time and ideally at least six weeks before the relevant employee is due to receive notice, the manager should notify Human Resources whether or not the employee's fixed term contract is likely to be renewed or extended.  You can do this by emailing humanresources@exeter.ac.uk or by requesting an eSR1.

Where it appears at that stage that an extension is still uncertain or is unlikely, the nominated manager should explain the reasons for this to HR and continue to follow the procedure which can be halted if an extension is subsequently confirmed.

Before the employee's notice can be issued, the manager is required to write to the employee explaining the circumstances which may result in their dismissal and inviting them to a meeting to discuss the issue.  The meeting must be held at least two weeks before notice is due to be issued.  A template letter is provided for use which includes the key points which must be covered.

Guidance on holding the meeting is included in the section below.

After the meeting, the manager should consider all the points made by the employee and their representative before reaching their conclusion, taking advice from their HR representative as appropriate.  At this point they should complete the Consultation Meeting pro forma PD29.

The manager may take one of the following courses of action, according to the circumstances of the case:

  1. Confirm that the employment should end on the expiry date of the current fixed term contract;
  2. Extend the contract for a further fixed term, subject to eSR1 approval (providing "objective grounds" if the employee's length of service will exceed 4 years);
  3. Make the employment permanent, subject to eSR1 approval.

Following receipt of form PD29 where the decision is dismissal, HR will write to the employee at the point that notice is due to be issued.  The letter will:

  • Summarise the reasons for the dismissal
  • Give notice of dismissal
  • Advise on the right to appeal

If the PD29 form is not submitted, HR will not be able to issue notice which could delay the ending of employment and lad to Colleges and Services incuring additional employment costs.

Managers should retain copies of notes of discussions and communications with the employee relating to the fixed term nature of their employment, the circumstances in which it may or not be extended, the progress of new applications for funding, etc.

Who should attend?

Only those who have a role within the process should attend:

  • the manager responsible for conducting the meeting and make a decision;
  • the employee
  • the trade union representative or work colleague accompanying the employee, if any.

The HR representative would not normally attend the meeting although in complex cases may attend to advise the manager.

Postponement

The procedure allows the employee to make a reasonable request for a meeting to be postponed for up to one week for any reason eg sickness or if the fellow worker/trade union representative accompanying them is unable to attend on the date notified.  Only one postponement will be permitted and, following such a postponement the employee should be advised that if they do not attend on the re-arranged date, the University reserves the right to proceed with the meeting in the employee's absence.

However before proceeding in the employee's absence the manager should consider any reasons given by the employee for their non-attendance and take advise from the HR representative about whether or not to proceed in the absence of the employee or whether to re-arrange the hearing again.

Conducting the meeting

At the commencement of the meeting the manager should:

  • Introduce those present and explain why they are there;
  • Explain the purpose of the meeting is to review the circumstances which may result in the employee's dismissal and for the employee to make representation before a decision is made;
  • Explain how the meeting will be conducted.

It is essential that the employee has a reasonable opportunity to state their case.  Generally the meeting will follow the following format although there is a significant degree of flexibility on how the meeting should be conducted:

  1. The manager explains why the continuation of the fixed-term contract is not possible and any steps which have been taken or considered which have led to this view - eg grant applications which are pending or which have been unsuccessful;
  2. The employee or the person accompanying them may ask questions of the manager on the points he/she has made;
  3. The employee of the person accompanying them may ask the manager to consider alternative options which would enable the employment to be continued;
  4. The manager may respond in the meeting to the alternative options suggested by the employee (and ask further questions related to them) or may indicate that they will consider these points and respond in writing;
  5. The manager should ensure that the employee or the person accompanying them has no further questions or points they wish to make before concluding the meeting;
  6. The manager should advise the employee that they will be notified of the decision in writing within one week of the hearing.

Adjournment

During the hearing, either side may request an adjournment for private consultation.  Such requests from the employee should not be unreasonably refused.

Adjournment might be necessary if new information comes to light requiring further investigation or consideration by either side.

Where a hearing is adjourned, everyone present should withdraw (with the exception of the HR representative, if present, whose role is to advise the manager on their decision).  This will ensure that no information is disclosed to the manager which the employee and the person accompanying them do not have the opportunity to consider or respond to.

 

An employee has the right to appeal against a decision to terminate their employment under the Procedure for Non Renewal of a Fixed Term Contract.

Appeal Process - Non Renewal of a Fixed Term Contract

(extract from paragraph 6 of the procedure)

  1. An employee has a right of appeal against a decision made to terminate their employment following the application of the procedure in paragraph 4 or paragraph 5.
  2. The right of appeal must be exercised within 14 days of the date of the written outcome under 4.3 or 5.5.
  3. The appeal, stating the grounds on which it is made, must be in writing addressed to the HR Director.
  4. An appeal will be heard by a panel comprising two senior managers who have had no previous involvement in the case.
  5. The University will aim for an appeal to be heard within 21 days of the appeal being lodged, unless otherwise agreed between the parties.
  6. The appeal will be a review of the decision taken by the nominated manager.
  7. The appeal panel may:
    1. confirm the decision to dismiss the member of staff;
    2. revoke the decision to dismiss and reinstate the member of staff; or
    3. remit the decision to be considered further in accordance with the selection process under clause 4 or clause 5 as the Appeal Panel shall specify.
  8. The decision of the appeal panel shall be final within the procedures of the University.
  9. An appeal will not delay dismissal, but where an appeal is successful then the employee will be reinstated.