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Guidelines on Contract Management Contracts of Indefinite Duration%28V6%29[1]

Guidelines on Contract Management Contracts of Indefinite Duration%28V6%29[1]

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Published by: ielearning on Feb 09, 2009
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05/10/2014

 
Guidelines on Contract Management/Employment of Temporary Staff 
Temporary contracts are a feature of employment in the University of Limerick asthey are in many other organisations. The management of temporary contracts iscritical for the management and staff of the University to ensure the delivery of a firstclass service to our students and other customers. Staff need certainty aroundemployment prospects and it is unfair to staff to create an environment wherecontracts roll over from month to month or year to year. From a management perspective this creates huge layers of bureaucracy and administration. This type of environment is not productive for staff or management and increases our staff cost base. It is the responsibility of all Managers and Supervisors to accept the financialownership of contract management and ensure the University’s overall staff costs arenot increased by default.In the University of Limerick we employ permanent and temporary Faculty, Staff andResearchers. To enable us to provide the best possible levels of service it is veryimportant that we recruit from the widest possible pool of applicants and have a fair and transparent process for making these appointments. Selecting Faculty, Staff andResearchers by way of open competition is therefore essential to achieving thisobjective. Therefore we should make every effort to recruit staff on a permanent basisthrough open competition. However there will always be a need to recruit temporarystaff so we must ensure we comply with the relevant employment legislation.The
 Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003
which came into force onthe 14th July 2003 has had major implications for the employment of temporary staff in the University of Limerick. There is a lot of confusion about the definition of fixed-term and to whom the label applies. In the University fixed-term employees weretraditionally described as temporary and persons employed on contracts of indefiniteduration were traditionally described as multi-annual or permanent.
Definition of Fixed-Term Contract
A fixed-term contract is a contract the end of which is determined by one of thefollowing three objective conditions: -(i)the arrival of a specified date; o(ii)the completion of a specified task; o(iii)the occurrence of a specified event.Type (i) is the principal type of fixed-term contract whereas types (ii) and (iii) arewhat is also known as “specified purpose contracts”.
Regulating the Use of Fixed-term Contracts – Section 8
Section 8 of the legislation is particularly important from the University’s perspectiveand requires us to rethink the way we administer fixed-term contracts. The legislationis not intended at limiting the use of fixed-term contracts
 per se
. Rather it is intendedto prevent the successive use of fixed-term contracts in a manner which is deemed toconstitute abuse. Recent decisions under the 2003 Act have reinforced the importanceof the correct administration of fixed-term contracts, both at the initial stage and therenewal stage. The Act itself stipulates certain information must be provided to allfixed-term employees in their contracts of employment. This aspect of the Act is one
 
which we must pay special attention to. Managers must be extremely vigilant toensure that the temporary contract reflects the specific circumstance of eachindividual’s temporary employment.
Fixed-term Contract
The Act stipulates that fixed-term employees must be informed which of the threeconditions (i), (ii) or (iii) above will apply to the ending of their contract. Therefore, atthe commencement of an employee’s temporary employment s/he should be providedwith a contract, which in addition to providing the standard information relating to theterms and conditions of employment, should include information relating to theemployment circumstances and the objective reason which will bring about thetermination of their contract, e.g.1• Reaching a specific date, e.g. 31st December 2010
Renewal of fixed-term contracts – section 9 of the 2003 Act
Every effort should be made to identify the exact duration of the contract and thecontract issued for this period so it will not have to be renewed. Initial fixed-termcontracts can be issued for any period (1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years). If theemployee’s contract is terminated after this initial period (reaching the expiry dateafter e.g. 1 year, 3 year, 5 year, 10 year contract) i.e. there is no renewal, the employeehas no further entitlements under this legislation and s/he is not entitled to a contractof indefinite duration.Renewing fixed-term contracts is where employees gain potential entitlements.Section 9(2) of the legislation states that where fixed-term employees are recruitedafter the passing of the Act and are employed on two or more continuous temporarycontracts the total duration of these contracts may not exceed four years or thecontract will be deemed to be one of indefinite duration.
 For example, an employee whose two year initial fixed-term / temporary contract is subsequently renewed will be automatically deemed to have a contract of indefiniteduration when a four year aggregate has been exceeded in the absence of objective grounds.
Information to fixed-term employees on renewal of a fixed-term contract – section 8 of the 2003 Act
The University must also inform the employee in writing of the objective reasons (seeAppendix 2 – sample letter) for the renewal of the fixed-term contract and the reasonas to why s/he is not being offered a permanent contract. This information must be setout in writing (separate to the employment contract) to the employee no later than thedate of the renewal. The University cannot retrospectively supply this information tothe employee. This aspect of the Act is one which we must pay special attention to.Managers must be extremely vigilant to ensure that the temporary contract reflects thespecified circumstance of each individual’s temporary employment.
Certain positions within the University of Limerick are not permanent and probablynever will be i.e. Research Post Docs. Therefore good practice in relation this staff  grouping would be to issue X (2/3/4/?) year non-renewable fixed-term contracts. Research Post Docs should be informed of this in advance of taking up a research post so they are fully informed and have no false expectations.
 
Specific Purpose Contracts
Many fixed-term employees are employed for a specific purpose the length of timefor which they will be employed may not be capable of being determined at the initialappointment stage. For example, an employee might be employed in a post pending it being filled in a permanent capacity through open competition. This type of fixed-term employee should be issued with a specific purpose contract, which outlines thespecific purpose for which they are employed clearly stipulated on the contract andthe specific event which will bring about the contract’s termination.
 Example 1: “You are employed pending the filling of the post on a permanent basisthrough open competition. Your employment will terminate when the post is filled ona permanent basis”. Example 2: “You are employed to cover the career break of Mr John Smith. Your employment will terminate upon Mr Smith returning to work at the termination of hiscareer break”. Example 3: “You are employed on a SFI funded Crystallisation Project. This is atemporary post and your employment will terminate when the SFI funded Crystallisation Project comes to an end”. Example 4: “You are employed to cover for Ms Celia Murphy while she is on sick leave. Your employment with the University of Limerick will terminate when MsMurphy returns from sick leave. You are not being offered a contract of indefiniteduration as Ms Murphy is the permanent holder of this post”. Example 5: (Funding dependent on fee income & customer demand e.g. Adult  Education): “The funding for this post is dependent on customer demand and feeincome. The continuation of your employment is dependent on the continuation of  such customer demand and fee income. Your employment will terminate in the event that funding for the post is no longer available”. (Levels of Customer Demand & Fee Income need to be defined in advance).
Renewing specific purpose Contracts like fixed-term contracts is where employeesgain potential entitlements. Section 9(2) of the 2003 Act states that where fixed-termemployees are recruited after the passing of the Act and are employed on two or morecontinuous temporary contracts the total duration of these contracts may not exceedfour years or the contract will be deemed to be one of indefinite duration.
 For example, an employee whose specific purpose contract is subsequently renewed  for another purpose will be automatically deemed to have a contract of indefiniteduration after an aggregate of four year, in the absence of objective grounds.
The University must also inform the employee in writing of the objective reasons (seeAppendix 2 – sample letter) why a new specific purpose contract is being issued andthe reason as to why s/he is not being offered a permanent contract. This informationmust be set out in writing (separate to the employment contract) to the employee nolater than the date of the renewal. The University cannot retrospectively supply thisinformation to the employee.

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