The University of Exeter will no longer employ postgraduate teaching assistants on casual contracts, as announced in a recent email to staff from vice-chancellor Steve Smith.
The email, sent on 18th September, announced that postgraduate students who work regular or pre-scheduled hours will be employed on annual contracts, so that they are able to access the benefits of permanent or fixed-term contracts, such as the Universities Superannuation Scheme pension programme, parental leave, and sick leave.
The change is due to be implemented from 24th September, and will run through the academic year on a trial scheme.
Jacqui Marshall, director of people services and global partnerships at the university, said: “The idea of these annualised contracts are that people might often only teach for 10 months…but we can annualise that so they are actually getting a salary so it’s much easier for them to manage their budget.”
The annualisation follows on from similar changes made by other universities in recent years: in 2013, the University of Edinburgh abolished zero hours contracts, and in July 2018, the University of Sheffield agreed to stop employing staff on casual worker contracts.
The University and College Union supports the contractual changes that have been made so far, but continues to promote equal access to employee benefits for all workers.
Further information can be found on the university’s PTA website.