Section 3: terms and conditions of employment

3.1 General introduction: contracts of employment

Under current employment legislation, each employee must receive written particulars of the terms of employment within two months of commencement. This statement, together with a description of the duties of the post, is issued to a member of staff by the appointing department in a standard University format as the formal letter of appointment.

This whole section of the handbook supplements that statement by dealing under separate headings with each of the substantive conditions of service, some of which may have been referred to only in summary form in your appointment letter. It should be noted that most of your general conditions of service are stated separately and definitively in University circulars or national agreements which Council has approved for adoption in Oxford, or in agreements collectively negotiated at a local level; circulars containing these can be inspected within the department, usually in the Departmental Administrator's (or equivalent's)* office or on the Personnel Services circulars web page. Certain conditions (as referred to below) are determined at departmental level (within general university policy); new members of staff will be advised of these on joining the department.

If you are in doubt or have any questions about your conditions of employment you should first of all consult the Departmental Administrator.

* Note: in some departments, faculties and other units the role of Departmental Administrator may be carried out by an equivalent person with a different title.

3.2 Probation

An appointment may be made subject to a defined probationary period, in which case the period is specified in your letter of appointment and/or statement of terms of employment. If your appointment is subject to a probationary period, your progress should normally be reviewed and discussed with you, normally no later than halfway through the probationary period, in addition to the usual monitoring of your performance as a new member of staff.

The purpose of a probationary period is to ensure that a postholder taking up a new appointment is, within a reasonable period of time, able to gain a full understanding of the requirements of the post and to achieve a satisfactory level of performance.

Probationary periods may, exceptionally, be extended to allow additional time for the postholder to demonstrate that he or she has achieved a satisfactory level of performance. This will normally be done through a formal process, following a formal interview held, in accordance with the probationary procedure, before the expiry of the probationary period. However, where the postholder has not been able to attend work for the full length of the stated probationary period (e.g. through sickness absence), the University may decide to extend the probationary period to allow for this, in which case the probationer, having been unable to attend an interview, will be informed of the extension of his or her probationary period in writing before the date on which his or her probation would otherwise have been due to expire.

3.3 Appraisal

The Oxford appraisal scheme for academic-related staff is designed to encourage continuing self-appraisal and is directed towards your personal and career development, as well as to the effective operation of the section/division/department with which you are associated.

Appraisal is not related to promotion, merit awards or disciplinary action. There are likely to be differences in the detail of the implementation of appraisal between departments, but broadly speaking the procedures involve the completion of a self-appraisal form each year and a formal discussion with a nominated appraiser at least once every three years, although you or your appraiser may request an appraisal discussion at any time. Further details of the appraisal scheme which operates in your department may be obtained from your Departmental Administrator.

3.4 Salaries

3.4.1 Rate of pay, etc

The title of your post, your grade, commencing rate of pay and salary scale are stated in your letter of appointment. No payments may be made in addition to this rate of pay, except as set out below.

If you feel that, because of a change or increase in your duties, the grade of your job should be reviewed, please speak to your Departmental Administrator in the first instance.

3.5 Superannuation

The University offers defined benefit occupational pension schemes for eligible employees. These schemes provide a pension and a tax-free lump sum on retirement as well as life cover whilst in the University's employment. You are an eligible employee if you have been issued a contract of employment with the University (specifically, the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford) and are aged at least 16 and under 75. Eligible employees are admitted into membership of the pension scheme offered by the University appropriate to their status. Separate pension arrangements are in place for non-employees who have a contract to work or provide services.

If eligible, you will be automatically enrolled into the appropriate pension scheme until you give notice in writing to opt out of the scheme, to the Head of Pensions, Finance Division, University of Oxford, 6 Worcester Street, Oxford OX1 2BX. You must state that you wish to exercise your statutory right not to belong to the scheme. If you choose not to belong to a pension scheme you will not receive any form of compensation in lieu of pension scheme membership.

The pension schemes offered by the University meet or exceed the qualifying standards set by the government. If you cease membership of a qualifying pension, and you are aged between 22 and the State Pension Age, work, or ordinarily work, in the UK and earn above the threshold set by government, the University has a duty under law to enrol or re-enrol you automatically into the appropriate qualifying scheme.  If this happens, you have the right to opt out of the scheme.  If you are not a member of a qualifying pension scheme, and are aged at least 16 and under 75, you may ask to opt in or join, and the University will enrol you.

Pension schemes

The schemes offered by the University are:

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) This is a national scheme for staff employed on academic and academic-related scales of pay (grade 6 and above).

The University of Oxford Staff Pension Scheme (OSPS) This is the University’s scheme for staff who are employed on grades 1 - 5

If there is a change to your grade, the appropriate scheme will be that which is applicable to the new position. For example if you are employed on a grade 1 - 5 and are promoted or re-graded to an academic-related grade, you will have to change pension scheme.

The University also participates in certain other schemes in respect of specific employees in exceptional circumstances. These include:

The National Health Service Pension Scheme This is a national scheme for NHS employees. The only University staff who participate in this scheme are those who are employed in a clinical role and were active members of the NHSPS immediately before their employment by the University.

Salary exchange scheme for pension contributions (Salary Exchange)

Subject to certain limited exceptions, if you are eligible to become a member of either USS or OSPS and you join the pension scheme, you are automatically enrolled in the University's salary exchange scheme for pension contributions from three months after the date of joining the pension scheme.

A new employee may opt out of Salary Exchange. To do so you must give notice in writing to the Payroll Manager that you do not wish to join the scheme at least one month before you are automatically enrolled.

Under Salary Exchange, the deduction for your personal pension contributions is reduced to nil. At the same time your pensionable salary is reduced by an amount equal to your pension contributions and the University increases its contributions to the pension scheme by an equivalent amount. Your pensionable salary and pension scheme benefits are not reduced. Because National Insurance is calculated on your salary after Salary Exchange, you will benefit from reduced National Insurance contributions. Your salary before Salary Exchange, ie your pensionable salary, remains unchanged.

You may change your decision to opt in or out of Salary Exchange either annually on 1 April, or on any date if you experience a "life change" event.

If you have a period of unpaid leave you will be automatically opted into Salary Exchange on the date you return to paid employment, unless you give notice in writing to the Payroll Manager that you do not wish to be enrolled.

If you do not participate in Salary Exchange you will pay contributions to the relevant pension scheme as required by the rules of the pension scheme. The University will deduct these contributions from your salary.

Further information

Further information on the University’s pension schemes, including on contribution rates, transferring benefits from another pension scheme and ways of paying additional contribution to boost your pension may be obtained from:

Information on the pension schemes is available from:

USS

OSPS

NHSPS

Information on Salary Exchange for Pension Contributions is at:
www.admin.ox.ac.uk/finance/epp/payroll/salaryexchange

3.6 Hours of work

The hours of work of academic-related staff are normally specified in the letter of appointment as those which are reasonably required to carry out the duties to the satisfaction of your head of department. In certain special circumstances (such as part-time staff providing rota cover for other staff) specific hours of work may be specified in a letter of appointment. In both cases, should it be necessary for longer hours to be worked, no additional remuneration will be payable.

Requests for flexibility of working hours for religious observance

All staff, regardless of religious belief or non-belief, are required to work in accordance with the arrangements set out in their letter of appointment. However, your line manager will make every effort to ensure that, if your religion requires you to pray at certain times during the day, you are free to do so. Please discuss any requests for flexibility with your line manager so that any agreed time away from work can, if necessary, be made up.

Information on local facilities for prayer in Oxford are available on the Equality and Diversity website.

Dispensation from normal duties, secondments, holding of other appointments

Arrangements under which academic-related staff may be dispensed from normal duties, be seconded, or hold other appointments are made at the discretion of your head of department. The agreement and approval of your head of department must be obtained before you accept any other appointment which may impinge upon your normal working time or which may reflect upon the department or the University.

Holding of outside appointments, including consultancies

University employees are permitted to hold outside appointments (consultancies, non-executive directorships etc.) up to a maximum total commitment of 30 days per year, subject to the approval of their direct line manager (where relevant) and their head of department. Exceptionally, permission may be given by the relevant divisional board for an employee to exceed the 30-day limit; in such cases a deduction from university salary will be made. Applications must be made on Form OA1, and applicants should read carefully the accompanying detailed guidelines before making their application. The form and guidelines may be found on the University's Personnel Services website. Alternatively, hard copies may be obtained from your Departmental Administrator.

3.7 Public holidays, overtime and other compensatory arrangements

Academic-related staff are not eligible for overtime; however, members of the academic-related staff who are requested to work on public holidays will be compensated by equivalent time off in lieu.

3.8 Holidays

You are entitled to 38 days of paid annual leave, inclusive of eight public holidays (pro rata for part-time staff and staff who work a non-standard week). Any locally agreed departmental closure days will be deducted from the total entitlement of 38 days.

For staff with less than a year’s service the amount of annual holiday allowed will normally be calculated on a pro rata basis. Holiday accrual begins from the first day of your employment.

Holidays are to be taken at times approved in advance by your Departmental Administrator (who will not unreasonably withhold consent). The normal leave year runs from 1 October to 30 September. Only in exceptional circumstances, and subject to the agreement of your head of department, may up to five days of any balance of the annual entitlement be carried forward from one year to the next. (For situations where holiday is prevented or interrupted by sickness refer to section 4.1.1.)

3.8.1 Holiday entitlement for part-time workers

Holiday entitlement for part-time workers is pro rata to that of full-time workers, including pro rata time off in lieu for public holidays, according to the number of hours worked. Further details are available from your Departmental Administrator.

3.8.2 Additional holidays for long service

The University scheme for long service leave is set out below. The amount of long service leave is based upon your length of continuous service within higher education. Staff who have had a break or breaks in service for domestic reasons (i.e. maternity leave or family commitments such as the care of relatives), provided that during the break they have taken no other paid employment, should have any period of continuous service in employment with the Chancellors, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford at the time of commencing each break in service for domestic reasons counted for the purposes of calculating long service leave entitlement.

 Years of continuous service    
More than (yrs) Less than (yrs) Days leave
5 7 1
7 10 2
10 15 3
15 20 4
20 - 5

 Part-time staff will be entitled to accrue long service leave pro-rata to the above schedule.

3.8.3 Booking leave for religious observance

By custom, holiday arrangements include (amongst other public holidays and fixed closure days) a day off on Christmas Day and Good Friday, both of which are Christian religious festivals. Those practising other religions should be given preferential treatment when booking leave on the religious festival dates of most significance to them, providing these days are booked with as much notice as possible in order to assist operational arrangements. The number of annual leave days overall will remain 38 working days.

3.8.4 Untaken holiday for those leaving the University

If you are leaving the employment of the University, any untaken holiday or lieu time should normally be taken prior to your last day of employment.  It will be at the head of department's discretion to require that any period of outstanding leave is taken during the notice period. Exceptionally, if you have not taken your full holiday entitlement at the time you leave, you will be paid accrued holiday pay calculated in proportion to the period already worked during the leave year less the value of any days of holiday already taken - public holidays being ignored both in terms of entitlement and days of holiday taken. If you have taken more than your full holiday entitlement at the time you leave, calculated in proportion to the period already worked during the leave year, then the University may deduct an appropriate sum from your final payment, or alternatively, by mutual agreement, may arrange for you to work for some or all of these additional days without further pay at a later date.

3.9 Termination of appointments

3.9.1 Termination of appointments by notice

The period of notice which you are obliged to give to terminate your appointment is laid down in your letter of appointment. Notice to terminate your appointment should be given to your department in writing. The minimum period of such notice is one week, but a department may exercise its discretion to require a longer period of notice, which is likely to be not less than the ordinary period from one payment of salary to the next. That is, if you are paid monthly you would be expected to give at least a month's notice of your resignation.

The length of notice of termination of your employment by the University that you are entitled to receive is similarly stated in your contract, but there are certain minimum periods laid down by legislation, which are as follows:

  • 1 week if your period of continuous employment is less than two years;

  • not less than one week's notice for each year of continuous employment if your period of continuous employment is two years or more, but less than twelve years;

  • not less than twelve weeks' notice if your period of continuous employment is twelve years or more.

3.9.2 Termination of fixed-term appointments

A fixed-term contract includes notice of its expected expiry date.  As the expiry date approaches departments will seek alternatives to expiry such as renewal or redeployment, where possible.   At three months before the expiry date, unless a renewal or redeployment has been confirmed, a reminder of the expiry date will be issued to you, together with information about the support that is available to you in seeking alternative employment within the University, if you wish to pursue this.

3.9.3 Retirement

The normal date of retirement is 30 September preceding the member of staff's 68th birthday. You will be notified of your own date of retirement two years prior to that date. There is a procedure for considering requests from academic and academic-related staff who wish to request to work beyond the retirement date.

Under the University Statutes, you may choose to retire at, or at any time after, the minimum pension age stipulated in the Rules of the pension scheme to which you belong, on giving the amount of notice that would be required to terminate the appointment by ordinary resignation. Eligibility for retirement benefits, and the benefits payable, will be in accordance with the provisions of the pension scheme.

3.10 Work permits

The University must comply with Home Office requirements to ensure that all employees and workers have permission to work in the UK. Some nationals of non EEA countries will require a visa to work in the UK.

Please refer to the Staff Immigration Team website for the latest information on right to work in the UK, visa requirements and contact details for the Staff Immigration Team.

3.11 Personnel records and changes in personal circumstances

You should always notify your department in writing (and Payroll Section at the University Offices as necessary) of any change to your name, address, marital status, next of kin, etc.