This information is intended for all managers involved in recruiting and contracting staff and is written in response to concerns regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on University finances.
The relevant teams in the HR Department have been briefed and will apply these principles and processes with immediate effect, and for clarity, where offers have been made, with effect from 23 March 2020.
Every effort has been made to ensure this guidance is as clear and as comprehensive as possible. However, inevitably, not every scenario will be covered. Please contact your HR Administrator with any questions in the first instance and they will escalate as required. This guidance will be reviewed regularly and may be updated in light of the current changing circumstances.
In response to uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a freeze on all contracts and contractual amendments (such as increases in hours, additional hours, salary supplements etc.) which have the potential to increase costs has been implemented.
The following guidance provides details of the business critical contracts and contractual amendments in scope for approval by the Principal, and the process by which approval must be obtained.
It also clarifies where exemptions apply.
For the avoidance of doubt, requests to recruit or extend agency staff must first be raised on iGrasp for approval by the Principal.
Except where expressly set out in the section below, the following contracts and contractual amendments require the Principal’s approval. The approval process is outlined in appendix 1.
- All new and replacement academic, QM-funded research, technical, professional services and support contracts, whether indefinite, fixed-term, temporary or timesheet;
- All extensions to fixed-term, temporary part-year and timesheet contracts;
- All contracts that are only partially funded by an external source or are funded by a block grant;
- All casual/timesheet contracts (including, but not limited to, student ambassadors, simulated patients, clearing hotline operators, helpdesk assistants, invigilators);
- All cover positions (including, but not limited to, parental leave cover, unpaid leave cover, sabbatical leave cover, sickness absence cover);
- All posts arising from a restructure/reorganisation;
- All redeployment contracts;
- All secondment contracts (except NHS secondments);
- All EDA-funded contracts;
- All contractual amendments that have associated costs (including, but not limited to, additional payments/additional hours, acting up/responsibility allowances, market/retention supplements, increase in hours, and extensions thereof);
- All on-call allowances, except those funded by the NHS;
- All one-off payments in excess of £1,000;
- All agency staff requests, including extensions.
The following contracts and contractual amendments do not require the Principal’s approval. As such, the normal recruitment/contracting process through iGrasp should be followed.
Offers that have been made on or before 23 March 2020:
HR will require written evidence uploaded to iGrasp from the School/Institute/Department that the offer has been made on or before 23 March 2020 and if this is the case, the offer will be honoured.
Where work has already been undertaken prior to 23 March 2020 and a request for a contract is raised retrospectively on iGrasp, this will be processed. Confirmation, uploaded to iGrasp, from the Head of School / Institute Director / PS Director that the work has already taken place will be required.
Contracts that are directly and fully externally funded:
This applies to new contracts or extensions to existing contracts that are totally and directly externally grant funded for a defined project. It also covers replacement teaching where the terms of the grant explicitly stipulate that funding must go towards backfill. Recruitment and contracting in these cases may proceed as normal in line with HR processes. Grants must have been officially secured and awarded, (not pending), and must cover the length of the contract within the funding duration. The proposed work must be achievable during the course of the contract and not affected (e.g. in the case of fieldwork, travel, data collection) by the coronavirus pandemic. Managers must ensure that the work can be completed within the given contract dates. Please note that all backfill contracts where the grant terms do not stipulate that the funding must be used for replacement teaching and all posts funded by block grants require the Principal’s approval.
Contracts (including contract extensions and (e.g. NHS) secondments) for Queen Mary staff who are employed to directly support NHS/Government efforts to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.
NHS-funded additional payments on clinical salaries:
For example, on call allowances, responsibility payments, programmed activities, banding payments.
Contractual amendments that are clearly cost neutral or reduce costs:
For example, flexible working requests, reduction in hours, unpaid leave, flexible retirement.
Managers are encouraged to review the recruitment campaigns and restructures/reorganisations currently in progress in their area and to consider where they may wish to make a case (using the business case template provided) to the Principal for approval. No offer should be made until approval is received. Early discussions to establish in principle support from the Vice-Principal / Chief Governance Officer are advised. Likewise, managers should discuss any current recruitment or restructures/reorganisations with their Faculty Strategic HR Partner to establish the risks of proceeding or abandoning these processes. Such risks should be included in the business case.
If a decision is made to withdraw a “live” post, managers must inform applicants using the template communication available from their HR Administrator.
If the Principal agrees that recruitment to a post may proceed but that any offer made is contingent upon e.g. student numbers, the applicants who have been shortlisted but not yet interviewed should be advised of the recruitment freeze for the purposes of transparency. Having invested time in putting in a strong application, they should be given the option to attend the interview but must be informed that if they are the first choice candidate for the role, an offer of employment will only be made if and when e.g. student numbers are confirmed.
This process applies to all recruitment/contract/amendment requests that are in scope for the Principal’s approval as outlined above. All posts in the academic Faculties will be directed through the Faculty VP approval process. All posts in central Professional Services will be directed through the CGO approval process.
The flow chart shows the eight step process involved in the Principal's approval. They are:
- a) Manager writes business case in template available below and obtains sign off from Head of School/Institute Director/PS Director;
- b) Manager/administrator raises position on iGrasp completing position details page and uploads business case;
- c) Manager/administrator triggers the position for approval;
- d) HE Administrator reviews the request at tier 1 and sets up approval chain;
- e) VP/CGO considers the request at tier 2 and indicates support by approving, or declines by rejecting and provides feedback to manager;
- f) Principal considers the request at tier 3 and approves if business critical or declines by rejecting and provides feedback to manager;
- g) Finance (and Research Services for part research-funded posts) consider the request at tier 4 to confirm funding;
- h) HR implements the request at tier 5, advertising post or generating contractual amendment as normal.
The Business Case Template can be downloaded here: Business Case Template [DOC 14KB].