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Fixed-term contract appointments

Policy information | Policy summary | Purpose | Applicable to | Not applicable to | Definitions | Policy details | Related policies |
Roles and responsibilities | Table 1: Conditions of service for fixed-term contracts

Policy information

Approved by Council Date 1 January 2011
Policy owner Senior Manager: Remuneration and HR Policy
Reviewed by HRMAG, ERMC, VCMAG, UHRC, IF, Senate, Staff Bodies (view acronym list)
Enquiries HR Client Services (view contacts)

Policy summary

  1. The appointment category depends on the nature, content and requirements of the position. The position must be of a fixed-term nature if a fixed term appointment is to be made.
  2. UCT's performance management system applies to fixed-term contract staff.
  3. Probation may apply to fixed-term academic staff if specified on the contract.
  4. Recruitment process will depend on the length of the fixed-term contract.
  5. Conditions of service are linked to the length of the fixed-term contract.
  6. The length of a fixed-term contract should normally not exceed five years.
  7. A series of sequential appointments may add up to eligibility for permanent conditions of service.
  8. Extension or rollover of fixed-term employment contracts will not be the norm.
  9. Remuneration and benefits are according to the current remuneration policy wherever possible.
  10. Fixed-term employment contracts will terminate at the end date or on grounds of redundancy.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is:

  • to strengthen the University's ability to attract and retain high quality staff;
  • to structure position categories in a manner that reflects our organisational requirements;
  • to ensure that we treat staff on fixed-term contracts staff fairly; and
  • to ensure good practice in terms of labour law and its associated principles.

Applicable to

This policy is applicable to all employment contracts of a fixed-term nature. In order to determine whether an employment contract should be for a fixed-term or permanent, the requirements and nature of the position must be documented and understood.

In order to be classified as a fixed-term contract appointment, the position must entail one or more of the following criteria:

  • a once-off specific project with (i) specified start and end dates, or, if the end date cannot be specified in advance, with (ii) a clear definable completion point to the project; or
  • the replacement of permanent staff on authorised leave or secondment for a specified period of time; or
  • temporary replacement where a permanent post is under advertisement, also for a specified period of time; or
  • professional / consultancy work for a specified time period or for a specific task; or
  • a limited academic or professional apprenticeship with clearly documented objectives (generally developmental in nature).

By contrast, a permanent employment contract is for needs which are deemed to be permanent. The posts which result may be expected to form part of the faculty, departmental or research group permanent staffing structure for as long as funding is available. Even if long term funding is not guaranteed, a post which is expected to last for more than five years should result in a permanent appointment.

Not applicable to

  • Students who are appointed as staff in roles linked to their studentship (e.g. demonstrators, tutors, sub-wardens, library assistants etc.). They will also not be offered contracts of employment for these positions for periods outside of their year of registration.
  • Staff who work less than 20 hours a week and who are remunerated on an hourly, sessional or daily basis.
  • Staff appointed on an ad hoc basis to undertake a specific once-off project. Such projects and appointments are usually a few days to three months and only under exceptional circumstances may exceed 18 months.
  • Retired staff who are reappointed post retirement and managed in accordance with the policy on retirement, early retirement, incentivised early retirement and post retirement appointments.
  • Executive officers and other senior staff appointed on contracts individually approved by Council.
  • Staff who are not paid (e.g. Honorary Professors and Honorary Research Associates).
  • Adjunct staff appointments.
  • Post-doctoral fellows (see: Postdoctoral research fellowships and funding for postdoctoral research)

Definitions

Term Definition
Grant funding External funds which are not secure in the long term. Distinguished from sustainable core university funding (General Operating Budget) and interest from endowments that are dedicated for a particular purpose.
Levy on fixed-term contracts A levy on all fixed-term contracts towards a central fund which covers retrenchment and maternity leave replacements. All fixed-term grant-funded appointments currently carry a levy of 1% of Cost of Employment (COE) paid towards this fund.

Policy details

  1. The appointment category depends on the nature, content and requirements of the position.
    1. 1.1. Classification as a fixed-term contract (as opposed to permanent) will depend on the nature, content and requirements of the position and whether the need for the position is for a fixed-term or is of an ongoing nature.

      1.2. The type of contract is not related to the needs, skills or profile of the person to be appointed.

  2. UCT's performance management system applies to fixed-term contract staff.
    1. 2.1. Fixed-term contract staff are managed against position requirements in accordance with the relevant performance management processes in place at the University.

  3. Probation may apply to fixed-term academic staff if specified on the contract.
    1. 3.1. Academic staff on fixed-term contracts will only serve probation if this is specified in their appointment contracts

      3.2. In such cases the contract will state the duration of the probation period.

      3.3. At the end of the probation period the appointment will either be confirmed for the duration of the full contract, or extended, or terminated with one month's notice. See: Policy on probation and confirmation of appointment for academic staff.

  4. Recruitment process will depend on the length of the fixed-term contract.
    1. 4.1. If the duration of the contract is for less than 3 months, the appointment may be made without advertisement or recruitment process.

      4.2. If the duration of the contract is from 3 months to 2 years, appointment may be made without having to advertise or follow a recruitment process but must be authorised by the relevant delegated authority.

      4.3. If an appointment is envisaged to be for longer than 2 years it must be advertised unless this requirement is waived by the Executive Director or Dean for good cause shown.

      See: Recruitment policies, Policy on Appointment without advertisement.

  5. Conditions of service are linked to the length of the fixed-term contract.
    1. 5.1. Positions of 2 years or less duration (T1 contracts) will be considered to be of a temporary nature and the benefits will normally be the minimum in accordance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

      5.2. Positions of between 2 - 5 years (T2 contracts) will be considered less temporary in nature and may offer benefits greater than the BCEA.

      See Table 1 below for a detailed comparison of conditions.

  6. The length of a fixed-term contract should normally not exceed five years.
    1. 6.1. The duration of the contract may be determined by:

      1. The actual duration where the start and end dates are known;
      2. The achievement of specified outcomes where the exact period is unknown (an end date must nevertheless be specified and any change must be managed according to clear and specific deliverables which as far as possible should be specified in the contract);
      3. Funding for a specific project. (In a given case the project may be defined but the funding may not guaranteed and the continuation of the contract is therefore made conditional on this. But this must not be done in a way that contradicts clause 6.1.ii. Where the funding is of a recurrent nature the funding link cannot be used as a factor influencing the terms of the contract.

      6.2. The letter of contract must indicate the conditions upon which the length of the contract is dependent.

      6.3. In the case of 6.1.ii and iii above, the end date may be extended in accordance with the stated condition. A new letter of employment reflecting the changed conditions will be issued in this regard.

  7. A series of sequential appointments may add up to eligibility for permanent conditions of service.
    1. 7.1. An individual may take up a number of different subsequent (and possibly continuous) positions which are fixed-term employment contracts.

      7.2. If the positions are significantly distinct (i.e. different contracts for different positions), the contracts will be viewed as independent of each other and will not result in the individual being appointed to permanent conditions of service.

      7.3. It is only when the position itself is of a permanent nature, and the contract for the same position is renewed sequentially, that previous fixed-term contracts may count towards the total duration of employment. In this case the current post should be deemed permanent and due process for this appointment should be followed.

      Sequential appointments Eligibility for permanent conditions
      Example 1: Person A works as an Administrative Assistant in Human Resources on contract renewed for 4 years. She then takes up a contract as Administrative Assistant for 2 years in the Science Faculty. The contracts are significantly distinct because they are in different departments and do not count towards the total duration of service.
      Example 2: Person B has worked as an Administrative Assistant in Human Resources on a contract which has been sequentially renewed for 5 years. The contracts are significantly similar and do count towards the total duration of service. After 5 years, Person B is eligible for permanent conditions of service.
  8. Extension or rollover of fixed-term employment contracts will not be the norm.
    1. 8.1. Exceptions must be strongly motivated. This must be stated in all fixed-term contracts:
      1. so that the appointee understands this;
      2. to avoid fixed-term contracts being used to bypass the University's requirements when making permanent appointments; and
      3. to ensure that staff have permanent staff benefits if their employment is de facto ongoing.

      8.2. If a need for extension (or rollover) arises, permission must be obtained from the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) or the ED HR, and a new contract must be entered into.

      8.3. If the contract renewal results in the total contract exceeding five years in the same position (see section 7 above), the Appointment without advertisement policy and procedure must be adhered to.

      8.4. An appointment in the same position may be rolled over into year 6 if and only if the Appointment without advertisement policy and procedure has been followed; and it is made permanent even where the funding is not guaranteed.

  9. Remuneration and benefits are according to the current remuneration policy wherever possible.
    1. 9.1. All fixed-term contract staff ought to receive applicable benefits and pay according to the current UCT remuneration policy.

      9.2. The position level is dependent on the position content or academic criteria and not on the availability of funding. However, the CoE for grant funded staff may depend on funding.

      9.3. Grant holders using externally sourced funds must make every effort to budget to meet the applicable UCT remuneration rates and benefits for their staff.

      9.4. The University will annually set guideline ranges for fixed-term contract staff pay on which contract staff will ordinarily be paid. The annual salary range movements will be in line with those for permanent staff.

      9.5. For fixed-term employment contracts, the contract must specify one of the following:
      1. A fixed CoE for the period of the contract (i.e. no increase in the subsequent years of contract); or
      2. An increase in line with the move for fixed-term contract staff, and with performance; or
      3. A discretionary increase (at the time of the UCT annual salary review period) within the appropriate range based on performance.
  10. Fixed-term employment contracts will terminate at the end date or on grounds of redundancy.
    1. 10.1. A staff member must at all times be kept informed of circumstances affecting his or her employment and must be given appropriate notice on the termination of the contract.

      10.2. Should a redundancy situation arise before the end of the contract period the retrenchment process will be initiated. The costs of retrenchment are paid from the fixed-term contracts levy if a grant-funded post (see Definitions).

Related policies

This policy should be read in conjunction with the following policies:

Roles and responsibilities

Read in conjunction with HR delegated authorities.

Role Responsibilities
Staff Recruitment Office
  • Only involved when it is an appointment without advertisement or where advertising process is followed.
  • Advises on recruitment and selection process.
HR Appointments Office
  • Formulates contracts of appointment.
  • Advise staff on conditions of service, breakdown of cost of employment and benefits as appropriate
  • Conducts qualification, criminal and credit checks as appropriate.
HR Practitioner
  • Guides managers on application of policy.
HR Administrator
  • Quality assure forms to ensure that policy has been correctly applied and that relevant documents are submitted before forwarding to HR Appointments Office.
  • Advise staff on conditions of service, breakdown of cost of employment and benefits as appropriate.
  • Ensure that all relevant documents are signed and submitted (i.e. contract of appointment, cost of employment schedule, benefit application forms).
  • Capture the appointment on SAP.
Faculty or Departmental Staff
  • Submission of forms and relevant supporting documents (i.e. motivation letter, staff member CV, position description).
Staff member on contract
  • Signs and understands contract.
  • Attends benefits information session and submits benefits application forms.
Delegated authority (E.g. Dean)
  • Approves terms of the policy.
Head of Department (HOD) or Line Manager
  • Determines whether the position is permanent or not.
  • Recommends salary, whether T1 or T2 conditions of service apply and length of the contract.
Grant holder
  • Determines the funding situation and therefore whether the position is permanent or not.
Area Finance Manager
  • Confirms whether funding is available for the duration of the contract.

Table 1: Conditions of service for fixed-term contracts (with comparisons to those for permanent appointees)

Conditions Contract <= 2 yrs (T1) Contract > 2 yrs & <= 5 yrs (T2) Permanent (for comparison)
Annual leave: PASS staff 1,25 days per month worked 26 working days per annum 26 working days
Annual leave: Academic staff 1,25 days per month worked Month of January Month of January
Sick leave 1 day per month worked 1 day per month worked 30 calendar days full pay per annum for first 3 years of 6 year cycle.
30 calendar days half pay per annum for years 4 to 6 of 6 year cycle.
In total, 90 calendar days full pay and 90 calendar days half pay over 6 years.
Family responsibility leave BCEA 3 days 5 working days parental leave - parenting partner (previously paternity leave),
See: Parental leave for academic, PASS or joint staff.

5 working days family responsibility leave.
See: Family responsibility leave for academic, PASS or joint staff
5 working days parental leave - parenting partner (previously paternity leave),
See: Parental leave for academic, PASS or joint staff.

5 working days family responsibility leave.
See: Family responsibility leave for academic, PASS or joint staff
Parental leave (previously maternity leave) BCEA (4 months unpaid maternity leave, may apply for UIF) 4 months paid (birth mother or primary adoptive parent)
The costs of a leave replacement are paid from the fixed-term contracts levy (see Definitions).
See: Parental leave for academic, PASS or joint staff.
4 months paid (birth mother or primary adoptive parent)
See: Parental leave for academic, PASS or joint staff.
Study leave Not eligible For preparation: 1 day per exam (max 6)
To write exam: 1 day per exam (max 6)
See: Study leave policy
For preparation: 1 day per exam (max 6);
To write exam: 1 day per exam (max 6).
See: Study leave policy
Special leave (all categories) Special leave with rights and pay on UCT business only. As per current policy
See: Special leave for academic, PASS or joint staff
As per current policy
See: Special leave for academic, PASS or joint staff
Study & research and contact leave Not eligible Not eligible, but if the fixed-term contract appointment is a full-time lectureship (or other academic rank) and subsequently becomes permanent the period served as a fixed-term contract appointee may be recognised for study and research leave entitlement, provided the fixed-term appointee is appointed to the same position. 2 months per year for staff on academic conditions of service
Exclusions:
  • academic staff appointed as Research Officers or part-time academic staff
  • grant funded staff where grants have not made provision for such leave
Access to URC funds
staff on academic / research conditions
Not eligible Not eligible for URC grants. May be supported from grant or faculty funds Yes
UCTRF Not eligible Compulsory membership.
Note: UCTRF membership is in two categories; for permanent staff and fixed-term contract staff. For fixed-term contract staff there is no income continuation cover for disability, but a lump sum cover of three times Deemed Pensionable Amount.
Compulsory membership
Medical Aid Not eligible Compulsory or proof of own or partner/spouse's medical aid if not joining UCT's medical aid Compulsory membership as per current policy
Private work policy Yes Yes Yes
Staff tuition rate Yes, in accordance with staff tuition fee rate policy Yes, in accordance with staff tuition fee rate policy Yes, in accordance with staff tuition fee rate policy
Relocation allowance No No, unless specified in contract Yes, pay classes 9 and above refer to policy
Ad hominem promotion eligibility No Yes, for staff on academic, research and scientific and technical conditions of service, in accordance with policy.

Note 1: Staff will be eligible for ad hominem promotion if the grant can fund this, if the grant cannot support the cost of promotion, the applicant should be given the choice, in writing, of (i) being considered for ad hominem promotion in rank-title only, without pay increase and no claim on the University, or (ii) not being considered.

Note 2: Since probation terms for fixed-term contract staff are different and individualised, 3 years minimum service is required before promotion is possible.
Yes, for staff on academic, research and scientific and technical conditions of service, in accordance with policy.
Probation and tenure No Only if specified in contract, in which case the period of probation and the timing of interim assessments must be specified. At the end of probation the employment may either be confirmed for the full duration of the original contract, extended for a further period or terminated with one month's notice. See: Probation and confirmation Yes, refer to policy
Notice period One month or as stated in letter of contract One month or as stated in letter of contract Refer to policy
Resignation (PASS)
Resignation (academic)
Occupational Health and Safety Eligible for appointment to duties in terms of 16.2 of the OHSA Eligible for appointment to duties in terms of 16.2 of the OHSA Eligible for appointment to duties in terms of 16.2 of the OHSA
Medical aid post retirement subsidy Not eligible Not eligible Eligible, as per current policy

Page last updated: 2 June 2017