Campaign milestone: Claim on casual teaching


Following over a year of negotiations, Sheffield UCU is pleased to announce a significant milestone in our ongoing campaign to improve terms and conditions for teaching staff. We have secured the following commitments from HR:

    1. All planned, scheduled teaching will be delivered by staff engaged on employment contracts (as opposed to casual worker engagements) from September 2018
    2. The default position would be to engage those who deliver teaching at the University on an employment contract
    3. An uplift to staffing budgets for affected departments linked to past casual teaching spend and need

Where appropriate, managers will be able to move current casual teaching staff onto fractional contracts as employees, on the same terms and conditions as other staff.

GTAs are already recognised as employees, and there is a specific set of terms and conditions specifically for PGR students who undertake teaching activities. We are next seeking to review this contract to allow greater flexibility on the grade of the role.

Whilst there is still a lot of work ahead of us, this is a major win. We are awaiting clarification on how these commitments will be implemented and monitored by management, and in the coming months we will specifically be seeking further assurances on:

    Criteria for what constitutes a ‘visiting lecturer’ and associated thresholds
    Improvements to GTA grading
    Advice and support provided to managers to implement this approach

We anticipate a phased implementation of these new procedures over the next academic year, and we ask that all UCU members pay close attention to how this policy is implemented in their departments and working environments. While this is a very positive move which Sheffield UCU welcomes, we need to ensure that no worker at this University is disadvantaged during the transition period. In order to do this we need your help – we want to consult with you and we need you to exercise #MaximumVigilance.

If you are currently teaching or have recently been teaching on a Casual Worker Agreement we strongly advise you to ask your line manager how this will affect you, particularly if you are expecting to be offered teaching next year.

We are therefore advising members to record:

    1. their last date of teaching in academic year 17/18 and
    2. seek confirmation from their line managers ASAP whether teaching will be available next academic year
    3. If you are notified that there will be no work or if you do not receive confirmation within 3 months (less one day) of your last day of teaching.

The three months is a strict time limit which may enable the union to legally challenge the decision not to offer work, or protect your legal position if no confirmation has been forthcoming. We can only make a legal challenge for those members who have undertaken work for the University for a minimum of two years.

We want to consult with members directly affected by this but this may be difficult over the summer. To this end, if you would like to have a discussion with branch reps about how this will affect you please tell us! We will either offer one on one meetings or organise a collective meeting depending on demand and availability. Please approach your line manager to ask how this will affect you, let the branch committee know if you have any questions or would like support to understand how this will work, and tell us about how this new approach is being implemented where you work, by emailing

Our position is clear. Zero hours working has no place on campus. We welcome this positive step that takes us closer towards that aim, and we will continue to campaign for fair and secure employment for all University of Sheffield staff.

Jon Benson (Branch Secretary)
Sam Morecroft (Anti-casualisation Officer)

On Behalf of Sheffield UCU