Sheffield lecturers in call to end casual contracts

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Lecturers on zero hours or part-time contracts at Sheffield Hallam University want proper full-time posts says a union survey.

A University and College Union poll of staff on casual contracts found that they did not enjoy or want the flexibility employers say the contracts provide.

Nine out of ten of those questioned said they would prefer permanent contracts with proper working conditions and guaranteed hours of work.

Eighty per cent of those quizzed teach at Hallam, while the rest are involved in research or both lecturing and research.

Research by the union last year found only 10 UK universities employed more staff on zero hours contracts than Sheffield Hallam.

The university says they account for only 6.5 per cent of the full-time equivalent staff.

Almost 50 of the academics affected took part in the research and said there were a number of other related issues.

They pointed out they were not being paid for preparation, marking and administrative work, while there were problems with their contracts being issued on time.

Bob Jeffrey, UCU representative, said: “This report makes a mockery of the claims that the flexibility provided by things such as zero hours contracts benefit staff.

“People want a proper permanent contract, because they want to know when they are working.

“They need to be able to plan their lives, not exist on a month-to-month, or even week-to-week basis.

“We do not believe it is in students’ interests to see lecturers who may not be there the following month.”

A spokesman for Sheffield Hallam said: “Associate lecturer contracted hours are normally agreed for at least a full semester, if not the full year, and staff have the same rights to annual leave, sick pay, pension, maternity and benefits as permanent employees.

“The university has an agreement with UCU which offers associate lecturers the opportunity to convert to a full academic contract, although the vast majority do not take this up as they value the flexibility of the contacts they have.”