Sheffield University not going ahead with controversial 'fire and rehire' contracts

Sheffield University will not be implementing controversial “fire and rehire” contracts which could have seen 8,000 staff put on contracts with inferior terms and conditions.

Sheffield University was criticised for consulting on the plans

The university said it had never intended to end the contracts of all of its staff but had consulted on the measure with staff and unions as a potential way of filling the black hole left in the university’s budget by a predicted absence of international students due to the pandemic.

Unite said the news was a “victory for common sense” and a “massive relief” for staff.

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The union’s regional officer Harriet Eisner said: “However, the toll on employees’ mental health over the last month has been immense. Some have already left the University’s employment under the voluntary redundancy scheme - would they have taken this course if they hadn’t felt the recent intense pressure?”

She said the move was due to a lack of long-term planning in the “fundamentally wealthy” institution, adding: “It was also a callous disregard for the employees who make the University such an attractive place for students to study.”

A spokesperson from the University of Sheffield, said: “In July the University began a consultation with staff around potential temporary changes to contracts in the event of significant financial loss.

“The potential measures discussed included a temporary pay freeze, a pause to incremental progression and promotion, and a temporary pay cut.

“These measures were only intended to be implemented as a ‘last resort’, but it was important that we were transparent with staff about our financial position and began discussions with our trade unions as early as possible.

“We are pleased that we are now in a stronger financial position and have been able to end the consultation around the temporary contract changes.

“We want to thank all of our staff for their hard work and dedication throughout a very challenging year.”