1. Introduction

1.1 This policy has been developed in partnership with the University of Glasgow’s recognised Trade Unions and replaces the previous Atypical Worker and Fixed Term and Open Ended Contracts policies.

1.2 The nature of the University’s activities predicates a need for flexibility in the deployment and contractual arrangements for its workforce.

1.3 This policy sets out the University’s approach to engaging its extended workforce and principles that underpin our employment practices.

1.4 In situations where consideration is being given to engaging a service provider (e.g. a contractor or self-employed individual) to carry out a piece of work, the University’s guidance on determining the employment status of service providers should be read in the first instance.

1.5 There are procedural guidelines available relating to this policy and its use.

2. Position Statement

2.1 The University of Glasgow is committed to engaging all members of its workforce on the most appropriate contract and to doing this in a fair and transparent way.

2.2 The University of Glasgow will utilise a range of contractual arrangements, reflecting the fact that in some areas of activity the volume and frequency of work is variable and often unpredictable

2.3 Where there is a sufficiently meaningful and predictable level of regular work over a given period the University will typically offer an employment contract which may be fixed term or permanent/open ended, full or part-time and will provide as much security of employment as possible.

2.4 The University of Glasgow is committed to providing as much forward notice & commitment of work as possible to all members of the workforce. When it is not possible to predict exactly how many hours of work will be available over a given period, the University of Glasgow will always aim to provide as clear an indication as possible and wherever practical offer a guaranteed minimum amount of work.   

2.5 The University of Glasgow is committed to providing its post-graduate students with the opportunity to carry out tutoring and demonstrating as part of their early career development and to providing the necessary training and support to fulfil these important duties.

2.6 Where the level of work is not at a level to meet the criteria set out in 2.3 above and/or where individuals can choose whether or not to undertake the work offered, the University will typically offer the work on a non-employment basis. Such workers (sometimes known as ‘casual’ employees) are not employees and are hence not employed on standard University terms and conditions.   

3. Governance

3.1 College/People and Organisational Development (P&OD) Teams will advise on the most appropriate contractual arrangement to use and will regularly review and audit practice across the University to seek to ensure best practice is adopted and shared. P&OD will consider the nature of the role and whether there is an objective justification for offering this on either a Fixed Term or Casual basis, recognising that the preference is to offer the highest level of commitment appropriate to any given situation.

3.2 The University of Glasgow is committed to sharing summary information with its recognised trade unions and will continue to work with Union representatives to regularly review employment practices to ensure these principles are being followed appropriately.    

4. Contract Types

4.1 As stated in section 2, the University utilises a range of contractual arrangements, reflecting the fact that levels of work are variable and sometimes unpredictable. The following sections outline the various contract types and the circumstances in which they are typically used.   

These are:

Contract type
Open ended employment contracts
Open ended employment but with a funding end date
Fixed Term employment contracts
Variable hours employment contracts
Casual worker arrangements

5. Open Ended employment contracts

5.1 The University is committed to offering Open-ended contracts when appropriate. For the vast majority of long-term roles this will be the contractual norm.

5.2 Such a contract is for an indefinite period with no specified end date. Where there is a reasonable expectation that a role will be ongoing, this will be the standard approach to employment.

6. Open Ended employment contracts with a funding end date

6.1 Where a particular role is dependent on fixed term funding or is linked to a project with a clear anticipated end date it is recognised that it is beneficial for this to be transparent to all parties. 

6.2 The position may be offered on a Fixed Term Basis (see section  7 below).  Certainly where the work is for a period of less than 1 year and there is a clear objective justification for the short-term nature of the position offering the position on a Fixed Term contract may be the most appropriate route. However the University is committed to offering open ended contracts where there is a reasonable belief that the role will be ongoing. The University will clearly signal the potential for the employment to be terminated if and when the funding or project work comes to an end. In such circumstances the University will consult with the individual and act to support them in seeking redeployment. Information is also shared with the recognised trade unions to facilitate collective consultation.

6.3 The use of such open-ended contracts is designed to continue the University’s aim that open-ended contracts continue to be the contractual norm rather than successive or extended fixed term contracts

6.4 The terms and conditions and rights of someone on such a contract are exactly the same as anyone on a standard open-ended contract.   

7. Fixed Term contracts

7.1 The University of Glasgow will use Fixed Term employment contracts where the business requirement for the role can clearly be demonstrated to be uncertain or finite.

7.2 Hence they typically will be used:

7.2.1 to provide temporary cover for situations such as maternity or parental leave and long-term absence or for one-off projects; or    

7.2.2 where there is a genuine lack of clarity on whether a particular activity will be of an ongoing nature. 

7.3 Fixed Term contracts may also be offered to post-graduate students who are engaged in roles such as PHD Student (Tutors) or Demonstrators when the level of predicted activity and mutual commitment merits engagement as an employee rather than as a worker, however any such contracts would normally cease upon completion of their studies at the University.   

7.4 As with open-ended contracts, Fixed Term contracts may be offered in a variety of arrangements including full-time, part-time, term-time or an average or minimum hours basis. In line with the principles above the University of Glasgow will aim to provide as much clarity as possible of working patterns and a specified number of hours. Where part-time employees work additional hours up to 35 these will be paid using time sheets at normal unenhanced rates. Further information on this can be found within the Procedural guidelines.

7.5 It is University of Glasgow policy that employees on Fixed Term Contracts do not receive any less favourable treatment and as such, conditions of employment for this group operate in accordance with those for employees on open-ended contracts with the same contractual entitlements (e.g. holidays) allocated on a pro rata basis related to actual contractual period and hours.  

7.6 Where it is not possible to take all holidays accrued during a fixed term contract these will be paid in lieu at the end of the contract.

7.7 Fixed Term employees will be enrolled in to the appropriate pension scheme upon joining. 

8. Variable/Zero Hours employment contracts

8.1 The use of zero hours employment contracts will generally not fulfil the key principles set out in section two. However it is recognised that they have been used in the past and may be considered mutually appropriate in some very limited circumstances. The University will keep all such contracts under review and consider, in consultation with the employee, whether there is a more appropriate approach where a level of mutual commitment to hours can be achieved. Where zero hours are in use the conditions of employment for this group operate in accordance with others on employment contracts with the same contractual entitlements (e.g. holidays) allocated on a pro rata basis relative to the actual hours worked. For the avoidance of doubt, there is never any intention to establish any form of exclusivity arrangements in such contracts and employees on zero hours contracts are hence able to decline work which is offered and also to work for other employers without the permission of the University.

8.2 Holidays will be accrued based on actual hours worked and will typically be scheduled (and hence paid) on a quarterly basis in consultation between the employee and their line manager.

8.3 New zero hours contracts will only be offered where it is mutually agreed that there is justification for agreeing an employment arrangement but the potential hours are completely unpredictable and/or very variable. Prior to offering a role on a zero hours employment basis formal approval is required from the Head of College/P&OD and relevant Head of P&OD.

9. Casual Worker Arrangements

9.1 The University will normally only offer work on an hourly paid casual worker basis where the level of work is insufficient to justify an employment contract (see 2.3 above). The University has full discretion whether to offer any work to the individual and individuals can equally choose whether or not to undertake the work offered. In legislation terms there is no mutuality of obligation and workers are not legally defined as ‘employees’ and are not employed by the University on standard University conditions of employment or otherwise although they do qualify for certain legal rights. Workers have restricted access to corporate IT systems allowing web access to the P&OD Payroll system.  

9.2 Payment for hours worked is determined by the nature of the work undertaken for which an appropriate hourly rate is paid. This hourly rate is calculated in accordance with the University’s pay and grading structure and should be based on a standard, graded job description.

9.3 Payment for hours worked are processed in accordance with monthly timesheets and appropriately authorised by the relevant Head of School/P&OD (see the procedural guidelines for more details). An additional payment in lieu of statutory holiday entitlement will automatically be paid and will appear as a separate figure on pay-slips for hours processed. This additional payment in respect of holiday pay is calculated as 12.0319% of the individual's normal hourly rate. Holiday entitlement will be calculated based on hours worked and will be pro-rated on the basis of a full time workers statutory holiday entitlement (currently 28 days). For the avoidance of doubt, such workers have no additional entitlement in respect of public holidays.

9.4 Such worker status is not intended to cover students on scholarships which include some developmental work experience, and who are not regarded as employees. Scholarship arrangements are covered by separate College specific guidance.

9.5 There are procedural arrangements for the use of workers.

10. Multiple Engagements

10.1 Some individuals have multiple engagements and their different roles may fall into one or more of the categories outlined above.

10.2 In situations in which individuals undertake substantially different types of work at different levels, potentially within different Colleges/P&OD and/or the activities are essentially unrelated, it may be appropriate for a separate type of contract to apply to each role. In such a case, advice should be sought from the College/P&OD Team. Where one type of work is undertaken once or very occasionally it may be paid in accordance with the worker arrangements on an ad hoc basis or ideally simply as additional hours at the appropriate rate for the role and charged to the relevant department.

10.3 P&OD will monitor the use of multiple engagements and work with the College/P&OD Teams to consider whether there are alternative approaches which may be more suitable for such individuals and reduce the complexity of their work with the University.

11. Monitoring contractual practices

11.1 To ensure that the University employment practices are in line with the principles outlined above the following monitoring and reporting processes will be maintained.

11.2 Data on the use of different contract types will be run centrally by P&OD on a regular basis and shared with College/P&OD Teams.  

11.3 Summary data will also be shared with the recognised trade unions and reported to the P&OD Committee.

11.4 Local P&OD Teams will meet with School/P&OD management and senior administration employees to review the arrangements for engaging the extended workforce. The main annual review will typically take place during the summer months ahead of the new academic year.

11.5 This assessment will take into account:

  • The nature of the work carried out
  • The number of hours carried out
  • The level of predictability of hours
  • The likelihood of future work following the same pattern
  • Feedback received from employees/workers

11.6 P&OD will ensure that best practice is shared across the University.

11.7 As such the payment and contractual arrangements for the extended workforce across the University will be regularly monitored and reviewed and may be subject to change.

11.8 This policy framework will be periodically reviewed by P&OD in consultation and discussion with University management, employees and the recognised trade unions.


Document Control


Policy name

Extended Workforce Policy

Approved by

Policy Review Group (November 2014), HR Committee (November 2014)

Implementation date

10 December 2014

Last reviewed

July 2023


Central P&OD – Employee Relations