PTA Guidance for Managers

Frequently Asked Questions - engaging a PTA

A flowchart setting out the contracting arrangements can be found here: PTA Contracting Process, and below is a summary of the key stages:

Pre-Employment

Provide a copy of the completed PTA Assignment Schedule (HAT form) to the student and to HR. This record provides a full description of the expected hours of work, and HR will use the information in the form to produce the 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 certified copies 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. Please note that further checks may be required for students that hold a Tier 4 visa.

Contract and Pay

The HR team will prepare and send an electronic copy of the contract of employment to the student. The contract provides important details about employment at the University, including information relating to terms and conditions, salary and deductions, hours of work and pension arrangements.

Any changes to the number of hours worked should be discussed and agreed by the PTA Co-ordinator (or appropriate manager) and the student. If necessary, the PTA Assignment Schedule (HAT form) can be updated to reflect these changes. It will not be necessary to inform HR or to re-issue the contract of employment.

The starting salary will be at the full time equivalent rate of £27,511 per annum, this equates to Grade E Point 23 on the University pay scale. This is the same rate of pay used for Associate Lecturers at the University. Any student that worked on a contract as a PTA for at least one full term during the academic year 2018/19 and is re-engaged as a PTA in 2019/20 will be paid at the full time equivalent rate of £28,331 per annum, this equates to Grade E Point 24 on the University Salary scales.

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 will also receive payment for training, induction, probation and performance development meetings that have been agreed with their manager. These hours can also be claimed via the iTrent Employee Self-Service system.

Entitlement to annual leave will be accrued and based on the hours of work that have been paid. Students will be able to view and book annual leave via the Employee Self-Service system. Any annual leave that has not been taken by the end of the contract will be automatically paid.

Casual engagement

If the assignment is for ad-hoc work of less than 10 hours, the work can be offered on a casual basis. In this case the PTA Co-ordinator should advise the student to complete the casual claims registration process.

If a student working on a casual basis is offered additional casual work that takes them over 10 hours, or extends their contract period over 12 or more weeks, they should be offered an employment contract.

End of contract

If a student leaves their PTA role before the end of the contract, the PTA Co-ordinator or line manager should follow the standard University leaving process for staff.

At the end of the fixed term contract, the HR team will review the student’s accrued annual leave, and check whether they have worked the minimum guaranteed hours specified in their contract. If payment is due for either of these conditions, this will be made in the month the employment ends

More information is available here: Code of Good Practice 

If you have further queries please refer to the following contacts:

For queries relating to contracts - please contact humanresources@exeter.ac.uk

For queries relating to payroll - please contact payandbenefits@exeter.ac.uk

Students undertaking work as a PTA 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. It also means that contracts and payment schedules do not need to be changed whenever there is a change to their allocated work.

The total number of hours that have been allocated for work and training is specified in the PTA Assignment Schedule (HAT form) The guaranteed hours contract will not specify the number of hours the student is expected to work, however it does confirm that they will be paid for a minimum of 10 hours by the end of the contract. This means that regardless of how many hours a student works during the contracting period, they will not be paid for less than 10 hours.

At the end of the contract period, HR will review the student’s hours. If they have worked less than 10 hours, they will be entitled to an additional payment to ensure they have been paid for at least 10 hours. This additional payment will be made in the month that their contract ends.

For example, if a student is scheduled to work 20 hours for the period of the contract, and they work and are paid for 30 hours – they have worked for more than their guaranteed 10 hours and there are no changes to their payments. But if they are scheduled to work 20 hours for the period of the contract, and work and are paid for 6 hours – they will have worked for less than the guaranteed 10 hours. This means that they will be automatically paid the difference of 4 hours at the end of their contract.

In addition, students will also be paid for any untaken annual leave at the end of their contract.

Here is a summary of the other key points of the employment contract:

  • Contracting period. All contracts will begin on the student’s actual start date and will run until 31 August.
  • Method of payment 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. For information on how to access and approve a claim via the Employee Self-Service system, please follow this guide: PTA Coordinator Guide.
  • Annual leave Students will accrue annual leave for every hour they work, and can use iTrent to view and book holiday.
  • Multiple PTA roles If students work across different disciplines for one college, their contract will cover all of this work. If they work for more than one college they will receive separate contracts for each college PTA role that they undertake.
  • Terms and conditions All other terms and conditions, and the salary rate, will be the same as for all other staff.

Postgraduate Teaching Assistants are paid by recording and claiming for the hours they work and hours for training via iTrent, the University’s payroll and Employee Self-Service system.

You will be notified by email when a student has submitted a claim for approval (and you will receive automated reminders about outstanding claim requests and payroll deadline dates). Once a claim has been approved, the student will be paid in the next available monthly payroll.

For information on how to access and review a claim submitted by a student via the Employee Self-Service system, and the process that is followed to make the salary payment, please follow this guide: PTA Coordinator Guide.

A flowchart setting out the payment process can be found here: PTA payment process

No, Early Career Researchers are already employed full-time on contracts of employment.

No - you do not need to notify HR.

The guaranteed hours contract does not specify the number of hours work and reflects that PTA working patterns can vary. HR do not have to be notified because the contracts and payment schedules do not need to be updated whenever there is a change to their hours.

Yes, the minimum number of hours is 10 hours.

If the assignment is for ad-hoc work of less than 10 hours, the work should be offered on a casual basis. If a student working on a casual basis is offered additional casual work that takes them over 10 hours, or extends their contract period over 12 or more weeks, they should be offered an employment contract for the additional work.

Yes, as for example Student Community Wardens. Also, if a student undertakes PTA work across different colleges, they will receive a separate contract to cover the work they do in each college.

Managers are asked to be mindful that the employment of a full-time student should not normally exceed 6 hours per week.  Individuals who hold a Tier 4 visa would continue to need to ensure they comply with the working restrictions prescribed in their visas.

Yes, students will be able to undertake other casual assignments at the University (e.g. exam invigilation, research assistant, supporting WP and outreach activities).  Additional hours must be claimed for using the PTA103 additional hours form.

Managers are asked to be mindful that the employment of a full-time student should not normally exceed 6 hours per week.  Individuals who hold a Tier 4 visa would continue to need to ensure they comply with the working restrictions prescribed in their visas.

All employees of the university are required to participate in these processes.  

  • The induction and probation processes ensures that they have full support during their first year to undertake their role as a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant;
  • The training ensures that as employees they are trained to the standard necessary for their role;
  • The PDR process provides the opportunity to review their progress and to discuss their ambitions and development needs; 
  • PTA’s must complete the probation process to enable them to continue to be employed after the initial 12 month fixed-term contract.

Colleges should confirm line management arrangements to PTAs, in some areas line management activities may be undertaken by more than one person.  

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.

No, the academic manager will assess suitability for the role in accordance with the “Employment of Postgraduate Students:  Code of Good Practice