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Loughborough University

Human Resources

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Probation (Academic Staff)

Virtually all new staff appointed by the University serve a probationary period, the duration of which is specified by the relevant 

Managed effectively, the probationary period serves a two-fold purpose. It allows the probationer to find their feet in a new job within the context of a supportive framework whilst allowing the University, as the employer, to be assured that the new member of staff is "up to the job". In the majority of cases, the probationary period is completed entirely satisfactorily and the appointment is confirmed.

However, in a very small number of cases problems arise which, if not capable of resolution, may lead to an extension of the probationary period or even dismissal. It is the aim of these documents to provide guidance so that all probationers and their departments find the probationary period as productive as possible.

Guidance notes for Academic staff

 Introduction

  1. The University is obliged to comply with the National Agreement Concerning the Procedure and Criteria to be used in connection with the Probation Period for Non-Clinical Academic Staff which was written in 1974. The National Agreement is contained in annex 1. These guidance notes are based on this National Agreement and should be observed for all Academic staff serving a probation period.
  2. Academic staff are usually appointed to a three year probation period. Probation periods start on one of four fixed dates through the year, namely 1 January, 1 April, 1 July and 1 October. However, if the appointment is for a fixed term of three years or less, the probation period will commence from the date of appointment.
  3. Academic probation will normally comprise teaching, research, enterprise and associated management elements. In order to trigger any reduction in the probation period, a case for exception must be made to the Academic Staff Probation Monitoring Group.
  4. By the end of the probation period, the probationer will have reached the required level of achievement in all aspects of an academic’s role as specified in the guidance. The recommended annual increments in teaching load as set out in paragraph 18 of this document should always be adhered to even if the individual is deemed competent from their previous institution. This will support the other aspects of the role.
  5. Responsibility for academic probation lies with the Dean of the School. However, in certain circumstances, the Dean may delegate authority for the management of this function to a senior academic colleague. Any such delegation must be approved by the Academic Staff Probation Monitoring Group.

Academic and Related Staff Probation Monitoring Group

  1. The Human Resources Committee has set up an Academic Staff Probation Monitoring Group (ARSPMG) to consider probationers' performance.

The Committee consists of

Pro-Vice Chancellor (Chair)
Five Deans
Elected Member of the Academic Staff nominated by the Human Resources Committee
Human Resources Adviser

  1. The Terms of Reference require the Group to be responsible for dealing with extensions and non-confirmations of appointment. It is recognised that the vast majority of probationers complete probation without problem, so authority has been delegated to Deans of School to manage the process. However, ASPMG is responsible for providing advice and taking appropriate action should a probation period run into difficulties.  

Probation Adviser

  1. A Probation Adviser will be appointed for each probationer at the time of their appointment. This will be a senior and experienced academic (typically (Senior Lecturer and above). A Dean of School should only act as a Probation Adviser in exceptional circumstances. Line managers (e.g. section heads) should normally be avoided as Probation Adviser where possible to avoid conflict of roles.
  2. The role of the Probation Adviser is to give guidance and support and to encourage the Probationer throughout the period of probation to plan, set and achieve the Probationer's own objectives and targets (which are agreed with the Dean and Probation Adviser) The underlying aim is to maximise the Probationer's potential and strive for excellence and quality in teaching, research and enterprise and associated management elements. Probation Advisers will receive appropriate training to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities.

10. It is a requirement that four formal progress meetings take place during each year of probation, and minutes of each of the four meetings should be taken. It is the responsibility of the Probation Adviser to ensure that these meetings take place.

11. Should a Probationer consider, at any time, that the advice and guidance being provided is unsatisfactory, and discussions with the Probation Adviser have not resolved the matter, the Probationer should discuss the issue with the Dean of School. If unable to resolve the matter, the Probationer may raise the matter with the ASPMG via Human Resources.

12. Probationers have the right to be accompanied by a colleague of their choice in discussions with the School where there is a conflict of opinion or in a meeting with the ASPMG to discuss the case.

13. If exceptional circumstances occur and a change of Probation Adviser is proposed by the Probationer, Probation Adviser or Dean of School, and agreed by all parties, the name of the Replacement Adviser and the reasons for such change must be made in writing and signed by all parties. The Dean of School shall notify the ASPMG of the change, attaching a copy of the signed document. Where agreement cannot be reached, the Dean will have authority to change a Probation Adviser.

14. The Replacement Adviser will be given access to all previous Work Plans and Reports and associated papers for the Probationer for whom he/she is now responsible.

Paperwork

15. The Probationer will be required to prepare and submit a work plan at the commencement of each probation year and a report at the end of the year. The paperwork shall be prepared in conjunction with the Probation Adviser and will be approved by the Dean. Templates for these forms are available at: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/hr/a-z/probation-academic---page.html.

 

16. In the event that a Probationer is appointed to a shortened probation period, the appointed Probation Adviser shall determine the work plan for year 1 of probation. This will vary according to the experience that the probationer brings to the post. Thereafter there will be annual review of progress towards the final targets.

Work Load

17. It is important that the overall activities of the Probationer are carefully considered at all times to ensure that a balanced programme of teaching, research and enterprise will have been developed throughout probation and beyond.

18. Teaching duties must be light in the first probation year to enable inexperienced lecturers to develop into the role and to allow time to build (or establish if already well developed) research and enterprise activity. Such duties will be increased progressively during the second and third years of probation. They should not however reach the level normally expected of a lecturer as set out in the Work Load Agreement until after the appointment has been confirmed. Typically the Probationer would be expected to undertake 1/3 of a lecturer's teaching duties in the first year, 1/2 in the second year and 2/3 in the final year. Deans are required to ensure that these protected teaching loads are complied with. Any exceptions must be referred to the ASPMG for approval. (The Probationer’s teaching duties/hours must be referenced to the school Work Load Model.)

19. It is important to remember, with regard to the teaching element of the probation period that:

  • Probationers are given the opportunity to participate in the full range of teaching experience (lectures, tutorials, laboratory work etc) and
  • Deans of Schools make due allowance for required preparation time when duties are being allocated to the Probationer.
  • Probationers are allocated modest management associated with teaching, e.g. involvement in open days and participation in programme teams.

Duties and Assessment - Teaching

 

20. Professional Recognition

Before completing academic probation, all staff are required to have professional recognition of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) at Descriptor 2, Fellow (FHEA), in accordance with the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF).  The Centre for Academic Practice manages two routes to Fellowship through their CPD Framework for Learning and Teaching.  Probationers with at least three years’ experience teaching in higher education in the UK, or who already hold a teaching qualification,  can provide evidence through the University’s Portfolio Route.  For those with less than three years’ experience, the PGCAP, which is HEA-accredited and mapped to Descriptor 2, must be undertaken.  The Centre for Academic Practice staff can offer advice on an individual basis.

 

21. Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP)

The PGCAP is organised and managed by the Centre for Academic Practice. The two year, part-time course comprises the following four 15-credit modules:

  • TCP001  Introduction to Academic Practice
  • TCP002  The Responsive Curriculum
  • TCP003  Research, Scholarship and Professional Practice
  • TCP004  Evaluating and Enhancing Practice

22. In order to complete probation, associated assessment requirements must be met. The Probationer and Probation Adviser are required to make themselves aware of the submission deadlines. 

23. The PGCAP includes a range of assessments. With regard to practical teaching assessments, one formative teaching observation will be conducted within the School in the first year of probation and a summative observation will be conducted in the second year of probation.  These observations are a requirement of the PGCAP, although other informal observations may also take place.  

24. A suitable observer for the formative observation might be an experienced colleague who has a similar subject interest. The procedure used should follow that outlined in Observation of Teaching Guidance Notes on the Centre for Academic Practice website. See http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/teachingcentre/procedures-schemes/teachingobservations/. The formative observation need not necessarily involve the Probation Adviser but the results should be the subject of full discussion between the Probationer and Probation Adviser along with feedback comments and grading.

25. In the second year of probation, a summative teaching observation will be conducted by a University Assessor.  The University Assessor will be allocated by the Centre for Academic Practice.  The PGCAP cannot be successfully completed unless the summative observation is passed.

26. Primary assessment of the PGCAP is undertaken by members of the PGCAP Team in the Centre for Academic Practice, the owning department for the Programme.  An Academic Practice Programme Steering Committee will ensure appropriate overview of the quality and standards of the provision.

27. Registration for the PGCAP takes place through the University’s online Postgraduate Application Portal http://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/apply/postgraduate/

28. Reports on the progress of probationers taking the PGCAP will be made available to HR following the PGCAP Assessment Boards.

In accordance with the University postgraduate regulations, probationers on the PGCAP are entitled to one re-assessment opportunity per module.  This is reported via the PGCAP Assessment Boards.  In the event of a probationer failing the PGCAP, HR will be informed.  The Centre for Academic Practice will provide advice on follow-up support on a case-by-case basis.

Duties and Assessment - Research

29. With the help and advice of the Probation Adviser, a Probationer will be expected to develop a programme of research in their subject area. Guidance should be given on the relevant grants and publications expected at each stage.

30. Research performance will be assessed primarily by the achievement of outputs arising from research undertaken over the course of the probation period. Normally a minimum of three publications in high quality academic journals (or equivalent) will be required, although this can be increased in line with normative subject expectations. This can include articles accepted for publication which have not yet appeared.

31. Individual targets will however be set for each Probationer to take account of the subject area they are working in and their research experience prior to appointment. Publications arising from work undertaken before coming to Loughborough University may be used as supporting evidence when assessing overall research performance.

32. In addition, Probationers are expected to submit whether alone or in a team/partnership at least one substantial external funding application relevant to their subject area not later than Year 2 of the probation period. If the Probationer is a Co-Investigator, it is the responsibility of the Dean to check the contribution of the Probationer. 

33. Probationers are not permitted to act as sole supervisor to research students. However, it is expected that joint supervision with an experienced member of staff is to be encouraged from the commencement of probation and by no later than the start of year two. It is expected that by year three the Probationer will have been allocated a studentship with a senior second supervisor.

Duties and Assessment – Enterprise

34. With the help and advice of the Probation Adviser, a Probationer will be expected to develop appropriate enterprise activities. This may include engagements with business, public or voluntary organisations in taught programmes, through research collaboration or as part of dedicated knowledge exchange projects. Consideration of pathways to impact should be a specific feature at all stages of research activity. It is expected that any enterprise activities undertaken will be directly associated with a Probationer’s teaching and/or research activities (including recently completed research activities). 

35. Enterprise performance will be assessed primarily by the achievement of appropriate objectives agreed between the Probationer and the Probation Adviser.

Long Term Absences

36. In the event of a long term absence (for example sick leave) the Dean will consider a temporary cessation of probation for the relevant period of time, in conjunction with the relevant HR Adviser. The Centre for Academic Practice should be informed accordingly.

Confirmation of Appointment

37. The Dean will advise HR when a Probationer has successfully completed their probation period. The Deputy Vice Chancellor will approve confirmations of appointment on behalf of the Human Resources Committee.

Extension of Probation or Non-Confirmation of Appointment

38.If, at the end of the third year of probation, the Dean believes that the Probationer has not achieved all of the requirements necessary for successful completion of probation, a report will be submitted to the ASPMG. The ASPMG will decide whether to extend the probation period into a fourth year or to recommend to the Deputy Vice Chancellor the termination of the Probationer’s contract of employment. Extension of probation and termination of appointment are both exceptional courses of action. Probationers will have the right to appeal any decision not to confirm their appointment (see paragraph 43 below).40 .Extension of probation should be used where a Probationer has displayed an improvement in performance since the issues were highlighted to them, but has not yet met the required standards of performance for successful completion of probation. It should be expected that the Probationer will meet those expectations normally within six months. Extensions can be approved for a maximum of 12 months. If performance has still not met the required standards after a 12 month extension, a recommendation should be made to the Deputy Vice Chancellor for termination of appointment.

39.If no improvement in performance is evident and a view is taken that it is unlikely that the Probationer will achieve the standards required in the next 12 months, then a recommendation should be made to the Deputy Vice Chancellor for termination of appointment.

40.The Deputy Vice Chancellor shall receive a comprehensive report from the ASPMG setting out the circumstances. The Probationer shall also have the opportunity to submit a report. The Deputy Vice Chancellor will review the paperwork and reach a decision.

41.The Probationer has the right of appeal against a decision not to confirm their appointment. Any appeal should be submitted to the Director of Human Resources within two weeks of receipt of notification of the Deputy Vice Chancellor’s decision.

Further Information

42.Further information is available from the relevant HR Adviser .

Guidance notes for Probation Advisers

Introduction

The relationship between a new member of staff and their Probation Adviser is one of the most important that they will form in the early years of their career at Loughborough. The underlying aim of the Probation Monitoring Scheme is to maximise the Probationer's potential in their role within the University. The role of the Probation Adviser is to give guidance, support, and encourage the Probationer throughout the period of probation to plan, set and achieve the agreed objectives/targets.

These brief notes are intended to highlight the essential elements of the Probation Adviser’s role and to indicate other sources of information that are available to help you.  The notes are not exhaustive and it is particularly important that you read the relevant Guidance Notes on the Probation Arrangements.

Who Makes Judgements About Probationers?

1. Probation Adviser

Of all the people involved in the process, you are in most frequent contact with the Probationer.  You need to judge how well they are progressing towards achieving the targets that were agreed at the beginning of the year. All academic probation advisers are required to attend a mandatory course . Further details are available on the online booking system.

2. ARSPMG (Academic and Related Staff Probation Monitoring Group)

The Monitoring Group is chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (R) and comprises the Dean, the Associate Deans (R) and (T), an elected academic member of the Human Resources Committee and the relevant HR Adviser for staff in Schools. For staff in Support areas, the Monitoring Group is chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (R) and comprises the Chief Operating Officer, the Director of Finance, the Director of External Relations, the University Librarian, an elected academic member of the Human Resources Committee and the HR Adviser .  It approves Workplans and Annual Reports and makes recommendations on the confirmation of appointment of the extension of probation to the Human Resources Committee.

3. Dean of School/Head of Department

It is the Dean of Schools responsibility to make recommendations regarding confirmation, extension or non-confirmation of a Probationer’s probation period to the Monitoring Group.

In addition, for academic staff and University Teachers, judgements are also made by:

  • The Centre for Academic Practice

    The Centre for Academic Practice is responsible for the implementation of the University's internal teaching assessment scheme. It does this by the direct assessment of the teaching of individual members of staff and also by the assessment of written work.
  • Informal teaching observers

    In the first two years of probation, informal observational assessments will be conducted within the department.  A suitable observer might be a colleague who has a similar subject interest.  These assessments need not necessarily involve the Probation Adviser but the results should be the subject of full discussion between the Probationer and Adviser.

What Should a Probation Adviser Do?

1. Give constructive advice/criticism

You are likely to be one of the first people that a Probationer will turn to for advice.  It is important that the advice you give is thoughtful and constructive.  If you feel that you are not competent to advise on a particular matter, suggest someone who the Probationer might approach instead.

2. Meet formally four times a year and report on progress


You and your Probationer should arrange to meet formally four times a year.  At these meetings you should consider progress made against the agreed targets. For academic staff, regular reviews of the Work Plan are important.  Be proactive in arranging meetings, agree an agenda and write the minutes as soon as you can after the meeting.  Don’t forget to always set a date and time for next meeting.

3. Assist with professional development 

There are a variety of ways in which you can do this such as identifying development opportunities and conferences, exploring work shadowing or observation opportunities (e.g. for teaching activities),  and giving practical advice on dealing with specific issues.  

4. Negotiate mentoring time (and give this time) 

Your involvement should go beyond the formal meetings indicated above.
 
You should set aside time, for example, to assist the Probationer in the course of their duties and offer them guidance on University procedures for example.

In addition, for academic staff:

5. Give guidance on target journals and lead-in times

Research outputs, of appropriate quality and quantity, are crucial in demonstrating that the Probationer is making good progress.  It is important that the target journals identified in the Workplans for each year are of good quality and that target acceptance and appearance times are realistic.  If you are unable to provide this information, perhaps because the Probationer’s area of research is somewhat removed from your own, find someone who can.

What Paperwork Should I Be Involved with? 

Detailed advice on the completion of all necessary documentation is given in the relevant Guidance Notes.

1.  Workplan (Academic staff and University Teachers only) 

You and the Probationer are required to identify targets (for teaching, research, staff development and administration) which should be specific, measurable and achievable. 

2.   Annual Report

The Annual Report records achievement against the agreed targets. If targets have not been met, or, for academic probation, if there have been any changes (for example, in target journal, target research sponsor, training courses attended) an explanatory note should be included (or a reference to be made to minutes of formal meetings).

3. Minutes of four formal progress meetings

The Monitoring Group don’t just want to see the minutes for confirmation that the meetings actually took place.  Often the minutes provide useful background information to explain why targets have not been achieved or there have been changes to what was agreed at the beginning of the probation year.

How Can I Best Help My Probationer?

  • Invest time and energy at the beginning to build rapport and trust
  • Do what you promise to do
  • Voice any concerns you may have at an early stage
  • Encourage them to develop independence and self-reliance
  • Ensure they commit to the achievable - they are judged against the Workplan
  • Ensure they maintain momentum throughout  the 3 years
  • Ensure your relationship is characterized by mutual trust, respect and professionalism
  • Probation can be commuted if they do very well - remind them!

Where Can I Find Information?

Don’t hesitate to contact your Dean of School/Head of Department or HR Adviser if you need help or advice on any matter relating to the probation monitoring process.  In addition, members of the Monitoring Group are happy to discuss the expectations of the Group. 

Human Resources: July 2009

Timetable for Academic Probation

Academic Probation Timetable and Deadlines

Probation Cycle

► Probation Start Date

► 1st January►1st April► 1st July

►1st October

Present Year 1 Work Plan to:

March meeting

June meeting

September meeting

December meeting

Present Year 1 Report and Year 2 Work Plan to:

December meeting

March meeting

June meeting

September meeting

Present Year 2 Report and Year 3 Work Plan to:

December meeting

March meeting

June meeting

September meeting

*Present Year 3 Report to:

September meeting

December meeting

March meeting

June meeting

Probation confirmed with effect from:

1st January

1st April

1st July

1st October

*Confirmation will be needed at this meeting of satisfactory completion of the Teaching Portfolio and practical teaching assessments. Please ensure that The Centre for Academic Practice deadlines are met so that results can be reported.

If the paperwork is not submitted, confirmation of appointment will be delayed until it has been received and could result in probation being extended into a fourth year.

Deadlines for Paperwork for Submission to ARSPMG (Academic and Related Staff Probation Monitoring Group)

The Work Plan and Report will be requested approximately three months before the meeting they are due to be considered at. A deadline of four weeks before the meeting will be imposed.

Publication Categories

It is in the interest of the probationer that when Work Plans/Annual Report forms are completed that a comprehensive list of publications to date is enclosed. Publications achieved in the particular year being assessed are not sufficient.

It is also essential that the standard format used in the publications database is followed. Details of the publications should be presented in category order (please see below), with dates and appropriate page references, and if the publication is co-authored an indication of the probationer's contribution is required.

The Academic and Related Staff Probation Sub-Group would like to remind probationers, Advisers and Deans of Schools of the need for this information to be presented in the correct manner. The Sub-Group will not approve documents that do not meet with these criteria and these will be returned to probationers accordingly.

Publication Categories

Year 1 Work Plan and Report Form

Year 2 Work Plan and Report Form

Year 3 Final Work Plan and Report

Personal Research Plan

Teaching and Scholarship Job Family

Information on the Teaching and Scholarship Job Family is currently being updated. Please contact your HR Adviser if you have any queries.

Guidance Notes for Research Fellows

Introduction

Research Fellows are normally subject to a probation period of either twelve months (in the case of initial appointments of three years or more) or six months (initial appointments of less than three years).  Probation periods commence from the date of appointment.

These guidance notes are to help all those involved to understand the requirements of the probation scheme and to make clear the processes, procedures and paperwork involved.

Academic and Related Staff Probation Monitoring Group

The Human Resources Committee has set up an Academic and Related Staff Probation Monitoring Group (ARSPMG) to consider probationers’ performance at the end of each year of probation. Each Faculty has its own ARSPMG which consists of:

Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research)

Dean

Associate Dean (Research)

Associate Dean (Teaching)

Elected Member of the Academic Staff nominated by the Human Resources Committee

Faculty HR Adviser

The Terms of Reference require the Group to consider and make recommendations on all matters appertaining to academic and related probation and to report to each meeting of the Human Resources Committee. It is also required to receive and consider all Probation Work Plans and Reports, along with minutes of the four progress meetings between the Probationer and Probation Adviser, and to take action as appropriate.  It may invite, where necessary, any interested party to discuss probation cases with the Group (or members thereof) and advise accordingly.

The Group meets four times a year on pre-arranged dates as defined in the University Calendar.  The co-ordination and processing of all probation papers is undertaken by Human Resources .

Probation Adviser

A Probation Adviser will be appointed for each probationer within four weeks of the commencement of employment of the Probationer. This will be a senior and experienced academic who is active in research. A Head of Department should only act as a Probation Adviser in exceptional circumstances.  Line managers (e.g. section heads) should normally be avoided as Probation Advisers where possible to avoid possible conflict of roles.

The role of the Probation Adviser is to give guidance and support and to encourage the Probationer throughout the period of probation to plan, set and achieve the Probationer’s own objectives and targets.  The underlying aim is to maximise the Probationer’s potential and strive for excellence and quality in research.

It is a requirement that formal progress meetings take place during each year of probation, and minutes of each of the meetings should be attached to the Report Form. It is the responsibility of the Probation Adviser to ensure that these meetings take place.  At least two formal meetings should be held during a six months probation period and four during a twelve months period.

Should a Probationer consider, at any time, that the advice and guidance being provided is unsatisfactory, and discussions with the Probation Adviser have not resolved the matter, the Probationer should discuss the issue with the Head of Department. If the Head of Department is unable to resolve the matter, the Probationer may raise the matter with the ARSPMG via Human Resources.

Probationers have the right to be accompanied by a colleague of their choice in discussions with the Department where there is a conflict of opinion or in a meeting with the ARSPMG to discuss the case.

If exceptional circumstances occur and a change of Probation Adviser is proposed by the Probationer, Probation Adviser or Head of Department, and agreed by all parties, the name of the Replacement Adviser and the reasons for such change must be made in writing and signed by all parties. The Head  of Department shall notify the ARSPMG of the change, attaching a copy of the signed document.

The Replacement Adviser will be given access to all previous Work Plans and Reports and associated papers for the Probationer for whom he/she is now responsible.

Interim Progress Report

Halfway through the probation period, Human Resources will write to the Head of Department asking for a report on progress thus far.  The report form asks the Head of Department to confirm that formal progress meetings have been held and to give a recommendation from the following list:

  1. Overall progress has been satisfactory.  Probation to continue.
  2. Progress has not been satisfactory and warnings have been given (copies attached).  Probation to continue.
  3. The appointment should be terminated by notice (an explanatory note should be attached, detailing shortcomings in the probationer's performance/conduct, and remedial action attempted by department).

The completed form should be signed by the Research Fellow, the Probation Adviser and the Head of Department before being returned to Human Resources.  If either option 2 or 3 above have been selected the form and any enclosures will be forwarded to the Dean for consideration on behalf of the Academic and Related Staff Monitoring Group.

The Final Probation Form

Towards the end of the probation period, the Probationer and Probation Adviser will be required to complete a Report Form.  This Report along with the minutes of formal progress meetings will be presented to the ARSPMG meeting for consideration.

Completing the Final Probation Report Form

  • Job Description Details

This should be completed at the end of the probation period so that any responsibilities acquired during that time can be shown.

  • Summary of Performance

This summary should reflect performance over the course of the probation period.  It would be helpful to comment on progress towards the Actions/Objectives agreed at the start of the period.

  • Progress Meetings

Minutes of these meetings should be attached to the report.  These need not be lengthy and certainly no more than one side of A4 is required per meeting.

  • Assessment of Work

For assessment areas 1 - 3  a ranking is needed together with a comment justifying this ranking.  When a satisfactory ranking is given it is helpful to include examples of specific activities that have been performed well.  When an unsatisfactory ranking is given the Dean will discuss the matter with the Head of Department.

  • Head of Department's Recommendation

Heads of Departments are asked to give their recommendation from the following list, on how the Research Fellow has progressed.

      1.         The appointment should be confirmed.

      2.         The probation period should be extended for a further specified period.

      3.         The appointment should be allowed to lapse.

Long Term Absences

In the event of a long term absence (for example sick leave or maternity leave) the ARSPMG may consider a temporary cessation of probation for the relevant period of time.

Confirmation of Appointment 

The ARSPMG will recommend to the Vice-Chancellor, who will act on behalf of the Human Resources Committee, the confirmation of appointment of a member of staff upon satisfactory completion of his/her probation period. The Probationer will be informed in writing by Human Resources. 

Extension of Probation or Non-Confirmation of Appointment

If, at the end of the second year of probation, the ARSPMG believes that the final probation report is likely to be unsatisfactory, it shall recommend to the Head of Department the appointment of one of its members (from a different department) as a Probation Observer.

Extension of a probation period is an exceptional course of action.

In the case of a decision not to confirm an appointment, the reason for this decision shall be contained in a minute of the Human Resources Committee meeting, which shall be provided to the Probationer immediately the minuted decision is available.

More information on extension/non-confirmation can be found in The Conditions of Service for Academic and Related Staff (clause 7 (c,d)). 

Research Fellow Probation Report Form

The Probationer has the right of appeal against a decision not to confirm his/her appointment. The procedure is contained in the Conditions of Service for Academic and Related Staff.

Annex 1

1.10.74.
COMMITTEE
NON-CLINICAL ACADEMIC STAFF

Agreement Concerning the Procedure and
Criteria to be used in Connection with the Probationary Period

INTRODUCTION

The 1971 Academic & Related Salaries settlement included the following agreement:-

Lecturers

Probationary period to be three years with possible extension to four years in doubtful cases. Training procedures to be improved with thorough review prior to confirmation on the basis of revised and improved procedures and criteria.

In furtherance of this agreement, a working party of Committee "A" has been engaged in reviewing the procedures and criteria for assessment of University Teachers on completion of probation. The results of that review are set out below. It should be stressed that the following paragraphs are intended to be applicable only to Academic Staff appointed to full-time established posts with tenure and to no others. Furthermore, anything said here is without prejudice to the rights of Universities to terminate appointments for 'good cause' or for redundancy.

THE NATURE OF THE PROBATIONARY REVIEW

1. The terms of probation as now laid down in salary agreements have certain precise implications which must be recognised.

(i) The probationary period is strictly limited: normally three years and, at the most four years. In practice and, in order to allow a person not being retained time to look elsewhere for employment, the experience upon which an assessment has to be based is normally not more than two years.

(ii) Within the probationary period, a decision must be reached, either that the appointment shall be terminated at the end of the probationary period or that the person concerned shall be confirmed in his/her appointment.

(iii) A judgement has, therefore, to be made about a person's promise on very limited evidence and there are no 'in-between' positions. The probationary period may not be extended beyond four years.

(iv) Probation having been satisfactorily completed in one institution, it would not be appropriate for a second probationary period to be imposed by another institution to which the person concerned subsequently moved.

2. Thus, the decisions made on its probationary lecturers are among the most vital staffing decisions that a university can make. At this point, the ability and energy of a lecturer are both under scrutiny, with termination of employment the sanction against failure on either count. Thereafter, the university is committed by the confirmation of appointment to the judgement that its lecturers are capable at least to the standard for lecturers, which is the career grade. Within that grade, only their energy and application may thereafter be called in question. There are the incentives of promotion to a higher grade, of regard of one's colleagues, of professional success and eminence. But the only sanction is a halt to salary increments at the efficiency bar except where a member of the staff is found guilty of misconduct, incapacity or dereliction of duty under proceedings for termination of his/her appointment through 'good cause'.

3. In the circumstances, it is essential in the working party's view that the decision to confirm an appointment at the conclusion of the probationary period must require a positive act of decision by the employing university. Such considerations would not apply to temporary appointments, that is, those for a stipulated period of years only.

Thus:

(i) while there should always be a definite prospect of confirmation of appointment whenever a probationary appointment is made (ie probationary appointments should only be made to established posts), there is no commitment on the part of the employing university to make confirmation of appointment at the conclusion of probation on automatic process;

(ii) at the end of the third probationary year the employing university should have offered confirmation of appointment or taken appropriate steps to end the appointment or offered an extension of the probationary period for a fourth and final year. Where confirmation or extension of probation is offered the probationer must have accepted the offer for it to be effective;

(iii) extension of the probationary period to a fourth year is without commitment on the part of the university to offer confirmation of appointment. At the end of the fourth probationary year if the appointment is not to be confirmed the appropriate steps must have been taken to end it.

(iv) A temporary appointment in place of an extension of a probationary appointment for a final year may be offered to allow the person concerned a longer period in which to find employment, s/he having been informed that confirmation of appointment will not be offered.

SELECTION, TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT

4. The working party is of the opinion that Universities must maintain high standards of selection procedures when they are considering making appointments to their academic staff. Where appointments have a probationary period it is incumbent on universities to provide training for the probationer of a helpful and comprehensive nature. Advice and guidance by a senior colleague nominated for this task, and encouragement to attend formal courses of instruction should be included. Attention should be paid to developments in the training of University Lecturers at national level as well as to internal courses of instruction. The probationer should receive a co-ordinated development programme which lasts throughout his/her probationary period and permits appropriate reports to be made, and remedial action to be taken where necessary, at regular stages. Universities should also ensure that the day-to-day duties and workload allocated to a probationer are appropriate for a person of his/her age, standing and experience.

5. The primary consideration for the employing university in deciding whether or not to retain a person at the conclusion of his/her probation must be the long-term interests of the university itself, of the other members of its staff, and of its students. But it is recognised at the same time that a university has a responsibility to assist the development of a member of staff in his/her probationary period; and also some concern for the future of a probationer whom it does not wish to retain. In the light of these general considerations, the working party has concluded that there are two sets of conditions which should be involved in any decision to offer confirmation of appointment. These are discussed in turn in the next four paragraphs.

6. The working party considers that the conditions first to be met should be as follows;

For a person to be offered confirmation of appointment following a period of probation, the employing university shall be satisfied that, having regard to his/her age, standing, experience and the opportunities s/he has been offered:

a) s/he has satisfactorily engaged in the teaching of prescribed courses and the supervisory and tutorial work assigned to him/her;

b) s/he has satisfactorily engaged in research towards the advancement of his/her subject;

c) s/he has conscientiously carried out such examining duties and satisfactorily performed such administrative duties as have been required of him/her; and

d) s/he shows promise by his/her work and enterprise of continuing to develop as a university teacher and a scholar.

7. The first three of these conditions are fairly straightforward and each admit of objective data. The fourth condition is the more difficult in that, like the confirmation of appointment which is at issue, it is concerned with future prospects rather than with past performance. Assessment here depends inevitably upon subjective estimate - the estimate of the person's head of department and other senior colleagues. It is however just in this class of assessment, the assessment of academic worth and potential, that senior university teachers are most experienced and skilled.

8. Secondly, some forms of behaviour, and they are very exceptional, may seriously harm the capability, good order or morale of a department, a school or even a university. For example, a person may be persistently uncooperative or careless or may deliberately make serious breaches in matters of confidentiality.

9. The Working Party accepts that such behaviour, if proved, may be a proper reason for not confirming a probationary appointment. However, judgements on these aspects of a person's overall academic performance can be more heavily influenced by subjective assessments and irrelevant considerations than judgements on the merit of the person's published work or teaching ability. In some cases, the faults complained of in a probationary lecturer may be traceable, at least in part, to defects of management or personnel relations. Accordingly, it is essential that unfavourable reports on any matters of personal behaviour be made in such a way that the probationary lecturer has adequate opportunity to make out his/her defence. It is further essential that wider consultations and broader enquires take place than would be carried out in connexion with a person's teaching or research ability.

10. The fact that a person holds or expresses views, on any matter, which differ from those of his/her colleagues or other members of the university is no reason for not confirming his/her appointment.

11. An employing university which declines to retain a person on grounds of inadequate performance or insufficient promise or personal unsuitability should be able to show (a) that training in university teaching was made available, and (b) that continuing advice and help towards improvement were offered and due warning given of inadequacies by the head of department or other responsible person. As part of the 1971 salary settlement universities agreed to improve the standard of training provided for probationers. In the matter of continuing guidance it is important that deans of schools/heads of departments or other designated persons should be conscious of their responsibilities, and that advice and warning where warranted should be given as early as possible and repeated as often as necessary. It should be the responsibility of the University authorities to see that a record of the probationary period is kept. Such a probationary record must be full enough to enable it to be produced in evidence if required. In particular details of the advice given, and of warnings given in respect of those matters described in paragraphs 5 and 8 above, must be included in the record. Where the probationer's failings are sufficiently serious to justify consideration of non-confirmation of appointment a written warning must be handed to him/her and a copy placed in the probationary record. A university which is in serious default in respect of (a) or (b) above retains the right not to confirm the appointment on the grounds that the conditions set out in paragraphs 6 to 8 above have not been met, but it may face arguments for the extension of the probationary period or even for confirmation of the appointment.

REVIEW PROCEDURE

12. It is desirable to ensure that the offer of confirmation of appointment following probation is not unreasonably withheld. The working party considers that the review procedure should provide safeguards against unreasonable termination. It is the working party's view that an employing university should give an explanation of the reasons for not confirming probation to the individual concerned but that there should be no obligation to publish the details of the proceedings unless this is required by legal process.

13. The working party considers that there should be a specific procedure whereby an individual may appeal to an appropriately constituted body against a decision not to confirm his/her appointment. This procedure should derive from the Ordinances and Statutes of individual universities where this is practicable.

Human Resources: July 2009

 

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