PTA Guidance for Managers

Frequently asked questions - background to changes

In 2018 the University implemented new contracting arrangements for postgraduate students employed as PTAs. There are many benefits to the new contracting arrangements including:

  • Greater professionalisation of the role of the Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, including clear association with the Education and Scholarship academic terms and conditions of employment;
  • Enhances students' future employment opportunities by including employment status on CV’s;
  • A commitment by both parties - in terms of the University to provide work and by the employee to undertake the work that has been agreed;
  • Participation of postgraduate students in induction, probation, training and Performance Development Review procedures (via ePDR) for which payment will be made for participating in these activities;
  • Membership of the university’s pension scheme arrangements “Universities Superannuation Scheme” and other benefits received by employees of the University, including sickness benefits;
  • Ensures that the terms and conditions and benefits are applied equitably with other employees on similar contracting arrangements.

New contracting arrangements for Postgraduate Teaching Assistants were launched in September 2018 as a 12 month pilot. The aim of these new arrangements were to improve the employment and payment options for our postgraduate students by offering annualised or termly staff contracts or casual work in line with the University’s business rules for engaging workers.

Following a review of this pilot, and feedback that has been shared from colleagues, the University is making further changes and extending the pilot for the academic year 2019/2020. The aim of these changes is to provide simpler and more efficient contracting arrangements, and a contract and payment process that reflects the flexible nature of PTA working patterns. The changes that will take place in 2019/2020 include:

  • A new PTA Assignment Schedule (HAT form)has been designed for managers to record a full description of the student’s hours of work and training. The completed forms should be shared with the student, and sent to HR (humanresources@exeter.ac.uk) who will use the information provided to prepare the PTA Contract to the student.

  • If the student will undertake ad-hoc work of less than 10 hours they can be engaged on a casual basis via the Claims Payroll. If further work is offered and their total hours exceeds 10 hours, they will be transferred to a guaranteed hours contract.

  • All students must provide evidence of their Right To Work documents before they can commence employment. If you are meeting with your student before they start work, then please ask for these documents so that you can check them and send them to HR, it will help to speed up the appointment process. HR will conduct checks for any student that has not been able to verify their right to work with you.

  • Once the PTA Assignment Schedule (HAT form) is agreed and shared with the student and HR, and the right to work check has been completed, HR will issue the contract. Postgraduate students who are engaged for regular/pre-scheduled work will be employed on a guaranteed hours contract of employment. This contract reflects that PTA working patterns can vary, and provides flexibility and security by guaranteeing a minimum number hours of work that will be paid by the end of the contract, even if those hours are not worked.

  • The guaranteed hours employment contract does not specify the number of hours work. This means that you do not have to inform HR of any changes to the student’s scheduled hours. You should of course notify the student in writing, using the PTA Assignment Schedule (HAT form) to avoid any later misunderstanding.

  • Students will be paid by submitting claims based on the hours they have worked via iTrent, the University’s payroll and Employee Self-Service system. PTA Co-ordinators will be required to approve these claims, and the payment for that work will be made in the next available monthly payroll.

  • If the student undertakes other, non-PTA work they should complete a PTA103 additional hours form.

  • Students who worked on a contract for at least one term in 2018/19 and who are re-engaged in 2019/20 will be paid on the second point on Grade E. Other PTAs will be paid on the first point of Grade E. For further information please see the University Salary scales.

 

In addition to these changes, the following arrangements will continue to apply:

  • Students will continue to be engaged in accordance with the arrangements set out in the “Employment of Postgraduate Students: Code of Good Practice”.   

  • Students will be automatically enrolled in the pension scheme.

  • Hours will be allocated as appropriate for induction, probation, training and performance development review processes (via ePDR).

  • Colleges/Disciplines must advise students of line management arrangements and may wish to allocate activities across more than one manager where appropriate, and should ensure postgraduate students are clear on local arrangements for induction, probation, mandatory training and ePDR processes.  The Doctoral College advise that the line manager for teaching activity and other PTA activity should be appointed from outside the student’s supervisory team. This is to avoid conflict of interest in terms of teaching performance and employment and their academic progress;

  • If a student leaves the academic manager must follow the leaver process to avoid the student being overpaid.

  • If a student leaves their PTA role before the end of the contract, you should follow the leaver process for staff.

Students will continue to be engaged in accordance with the arrangement set out in the “Employment of Postgraduate Students: Code of Good Practice”.

They will be employed on a fixed-term contract during the extended pilot, and will be associated to the terms and conditions of employment attached to the Education and Scholarship Academic Job Family.

They will continue to demonstrate their Right To Work before commencing any work at the University. 

The changes that will take place in 2019/2020 include:

  • Students will receive a PTA Assignment Schedule (HAT form) from the college with a full description of their hours worked and hours training.
  • Once the form is agreed, HR will issue a guaranteed hours contract. The contract does not provide a full description of the hours worked as these may vary, but it guarantees a minimum number hours of work that will be paid by the end of the contract, even if those hours are not worked.
  • Students scheduled to undertake ad-hoc work of less than 10 hours will be engaged on a casual basis. If further work is offered and the total hours exceeds 10 hours, they will be transferred to a guaranteed hours contract.
  • Students will be paid by submitting claims based on the hours they have worked via iTrent, the University’s payroll and Employee Self-Service system. PTA Co-ordinators will be required to approve these claims, and the payment for that work will be made in the next available monthly payroll.
  • Students who worked on a contract for at least one term in 2018/19 and who are re-engaged in 2019/20 will be paid on the second point on Grade E.
  • Students are permitted to undertake other casual assignments at the University (e.g. exam invigilation, research assistant, supporting WP and outreach activities).  They are asked to be mindful of the recommended maximum 180 hours annually that students engaged in postgraduate study are permitted to work.  Additional hours for non-PTA work can be claimed using the PTA103 Additional Hours form;
  • Students will need to give notice and resign if they wish to be released from work commitments.