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January 2024 Update

Many MSD departments have forged ahead and undertaken a review of the research and research support fixed term contracts of more than 10 years duration.  Our largest department has now offered a large number of staff the option to convert to an open ended externally funded contract, with many employees choosing to do so.

Divisional guidance for smaller departments will be published soon with revised timescales for the pilot project to run during Hilary Term 24.

With thanks to our MSD departments for remaining committed to this pilot project, for contributing a wide range of frequently asked questions and for undertaking the running of reports, analysis of contract types and consideration for the conversion of posts to open ended externally funded or permanent.

Gillian Morris, MSD HR

October 2023 - Fixed Term Contracts Review Project

MSD departments are reviewing cases where research and research support staff have been employed on a fixed term contract for 10+ years, with the expectation that that most will be converted to open ended externally funded contracts, where possible and where individuals wish to accept this offer.

This pilot project is a first step in the Division’s commitment to reduce reliance on successive fixed term contacts when employing research and research support staff. This work supports the University of Oxford’s commitment to “Progress mechanisms to create greater contractual stability and security for fixed-term researchers”, in the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers Action Plan 2022-2025 (Commitment 1.6; Concordat signed by the Vice Chancellor in April 2021).

All MSD departments have already engaged with preliminary stages of the review and, during Michaelmas Term 2023, the MSD HR team is providing further guidance to departmental HR teams. Some MSD departments already review the use of fixed term contracts at specified times.

Pilot project scope: substantive research and research support staff on Grades 6 to 10, who have been on successive fixed term contracts for 10+ years (excluding substantive Associate Professors or RSIV Senior Researchers who hold research posts). It is expected that wherever possible, fixed term contracts will be converted to open ended externally funded contracts, in line with eligibility criteria. Permanent contacts will also be considered, where appropriate. In exceptional cases, fixed term contracts will be retained. Individuals will be consulted before any change in their contract type.

Individuals whose contracts are being reviewed should be contacted by their departmental HR/administration teams by the end of December 2023. If you have any questions about your own contract, please contact your departmental HR team.

The Division sees this pilot as a first step towards reducing the reliance on successive fixed term contracts, and future phases are likely to review successive contracts of shorter duration (e.g. > 4 years). That is, 10+ years is a starting point, and we recognise that this will create significant work in some departments. We encourage departments, where appropriate, to start to review cases in which fixed term contracts have been used for > 4 years and < 10 years.