1. What are a researcher's entitlements in the areas of  annual/sick/maternity/parental/sabbatical leave?

  • Annual Leave:Annual leave is at the rate of 20 working days per annum or pro rata for the period worked, exclusive of Public Holidays.  The University closes for a number of days during Christmas and this period is additional to your leave allowance.  Your Principal Investigator/Supervisor must approve requested leave.  Annual leave entitlements accruing during the contract period must be utilised prior to the termination of the contract.
  • Sick Leave: Subject to certain conditions staff may be allowed 6 weeks (30 working days) at full pay, and 6 weeks at half pay in any 12-month period.  After 2 years service the entitlement is increased to 12 weeks at full pay, and 12 weeks at half pay in any 12-month period.  After 3 years service entitlement is increased to 18 weeks at full pay and 18 weeks at half pay in a 12-month period. After 4 years service has been completed employees are entitled to 6 months at full pay and 6 months at half pay in any 12-month period.
  • Maternity Leave: After 6 months continuous service eligible employees can avail of 26 weeks leave at full pay, except where the appointment is for a duration of less than 6 months.  For Fixed term employees whose contract of employment would terminate had she not been on maternity leave, then the period of leave shall not be extended beyond the day on which the contract will expire.  
  • Parental Leave:Parental Leave is unpaid leave for 18 weeks per qualifying child (since 8th March 2013) which can be taken in one continuous period or in 2 separate blocks of a minimum of six weeks. There must be a gap of at least 10 weeks between the 2 periods of parental leave per child.
  • Sabbatical Leave: The Policy applies to Academic Staff Only
  • Adoptive Leave: Eligible employees are entitled to 24 weeks adoptive leave with pay.
  • Force Majeure Leave: Employees are entitled to up to (3) days paid Force Majeure Leave in a 12 month period or no more than 5 days in a thirty-six month period.

The most up-to-date information on leave policies can be found by clicking HERE.

  • Pension: Effective the 1st June, 2006 all staff employed on fixed term contracts were offered membership of the Defined Contribution Pension Scheme.
  • Income Continuance Plan: Fixed term employees who have completed a minimum of 2 years service are eligible to join the scheme.  This scheme is designed to provide an invaluable income protection in the event of illness or disablement.  An application form and details can be obtained from the Department of Human Resources.
  • Voluntary Life Assurance: All pensionable employees with more than 6 months service are eligible to join the scheme.  This is life assurance cover paying out a tax-free lump sum to your dependants in the unfortunate event of your death.  The level of cover provided for under this plan is 2 x salary.  This is in addition to whatever the University College Cork Pension Scheme will pay out (between 1 and 1.5 x salary).
  • Health Insurance (VHI/BUPA/VIVAS Health): This is an optional health insurance.  UCC employees are entitled to join under the group discount scheme.  By joining the group schemes, you can avail of a 10% discount on subscription rates and no waiting period.  Deductions can be made directly from salary, please contact the Department of Human Resources if you wish to obtain an application form.
  • Induction for Research Staff:  Arrangements are being put in place to run an Induction Training Course specificially for new research staff, every 12 weeks approximately (dependent on numbers) starting on the 20th July, 07. 
  • Training and Development: New courses targeted specifically for research staff have been included in the Staff Training and Development Programme in accordance with the newly implemented Research careers framework. A list of upcoming courses can  be found here.

 

2. Is it required that a contract researcher should receive a copy of their contract?

Yes and as stated on the Employment Agreement Form a copy of the contract will be sent by the Department of Human Resources to the Employee, the Principal Investigator and to the Pensions Office. 

 

3. Is a contract researcher entitled to a contract of indefinite duration after three years of continuous employment? 

Prior to the passing of the Act, on the 14th July 2003, once an employee has completed 3 years continuous employment with his employer, the employer may renew the contract for a fixed term on one occasion only and for a period of no longer that a year.

All fixed term contracts, including extensions and renewals issued on or after July 2003 must be objectively justified.  The law assumes that from 14th July 2003 all appointments over four years are indefinite appointments, unless or on exceptional basis it can be shown,  that there are objective reasons necessitating that the appointment should continue as fixed term.

The above mentioned rules do not apply where there are objective grounds justifying the renewal of a contract of employment for a fixed term only.  The continuation of research/external funds is included on the list of objective grounds.

With regard to research staff, the implementation of the legislation in UCC will involve a detailed analysis of all current research employees and the development of policies and procedures in this regard.  At the moment details are being collected with regard to each individual researcher's contracts of employment (450 in total).

 

4. If a contract researcher does not receive a new contract after three years continuous employment, are they entitled to a redundancy payment?

A redundancy situation arises where an employee's job ceases to exist, a contract termination gives rise to a statutory redundancy entitlement depending on the length of continuous service (minimum of 2 years continuous service).



5. Does UCC fully endorse and enforce the payscales for contract researchers as outlined on its website?

The Research Salary Guidelines are used for costing all grant proposals and new contracts.  The guidelines are not formally adopted pay scales.

 

6.  How and when does a contract researcher have access to a car park swipe key?

When someone has been employed as a full-time temporary staff member on a continuous basis for at least 3 years, they can apply to Sonya Kiely in General Services for a car park swipe key. To be eligible, they also have to have a staff number and be paid by UCC.

 

7.  If a contract researcher wants to apply for a mortgage, are there are any provisions within UCC to assist in the process?

If a researcher wishes to apply for a mortgage, Human Resources can provide them with a letter to confirm their employment in the University. Following the financial collapse in 2008, the criteria for mortage approval have tightened. In particular, researchers in possession of a CID are viewed more favourably by financial institutions.

 

8. From UCC's point of view, can a researcher not on a permanent contract sign off as PI on a research proposal, if the funding agency allows for that? Are there any restrictions on this?

As a matter of policy, UCC does not allow contract researchers to sign off as PIs, regardless of the policy of the funding agencies, although there is anecdotal evidence to the contrary. UCC can make exceptions on a case by case basis for very senior researchers, but generally speaking, they do not support this. Contract lectures, however, are permitted to apply for research funding, as this is regarded as being within the remit of their job description. Legal issues are cited in the contract researcher situation: applying for research funding is not part of a contract researcher's job description.
On a positive note, this is an issue that is currently being addressed at the level of the Advisory Science Council which reports to government, and is regarded as an issue that must change.


9. Within the main funding agencies, what are the policies/restrictions on researchers signing off as PI's?

In general, the funding agencies are relatively positive regarding researchers signing off as PIs. The following is a summary of the various responses received from the main funding agencies.

IRCHSS
A letter of support is required from the host institution and a reference from the Doctoral Supervisor; a formal statement of invitation from the Head of School/Dept is also required as is the support of a mentor.

IRCSET
There is a requirement for a formal agreement by a research leader/PI/mentor to host the applying research fellow.

SFI
A researcher who has >3yrs post-doctoral experience can apply for some grants in his/her own name; institutional endorsement is required, and is essentially an undertaking to provide desk/office space to the researcher for the duration of the contract. The applicant can be either an existing contract researcher or a contract researcher awaiting appointment.

EI
Again host institution endorsement is required but a researcher can apply as PI.

HEA
No answer.

EPA
A researcher can apply as PI.

HRB

Support from the institution is required and in some research fellowships (e.g very specialist areas like rare diseases) the support of a senior academic/specialist is required.

RIA and Marine Institute

The Marine Institute has several funding initiatives including the Bluepower initiative and Seachange?


10. Will UCCRSA represent me should I have an employment dispute with the University?

No. UCCRSA does not get involved in personal cases. We endeavour to highlight and make available pertinent information relevant to employment rights and legislation on these pages as an information resource that researchers can use to assist themselves. Ultimately IFUT is the recognised union on campus that represents researchers in such instances.

The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) represents a range of university employees including researchers. It is recognised by the Government and the Higher Education Authority. For more information visit the IFUT website by clicking here.

In recent times IFUT has taken a large number of important cases to the Rights Commissioners and to the Labour Court on behalf of researchers. These cases have dealt with issue of quantum of redundancy payments and entitlement to Contracts of Indefinite Duration (CID). Some details of recent cases can be found here. IFUT cases (72kB)

Further information in relation to cases taken by Researchers can be obtained directly from the Labour Court website.

http://www.labourcourt.ie/en/Decisions_Determinations/

IFUT are now allocating a significant proportion of their resources to protecting the rights of fixed-term contract employees. Unfortunately, this group of employees constitutes ~10% of the total IFUT membership. It is imperative that this number increases to ensure that the main focus for IFUT now, and in the coming months and years, is to reverse the calamitous decisions taken by UCC higher administration.

Attached please find an IFUT flyer outlining pertinent employment rights and the benefits of IFUT membership to Researchers. UCCRSA does not have the finances or background to fight individual cases. However through membership of IFUT there is comfort in the knowledge that your individual rights will be fought for should you find yourself facing redundancy in the future. IFUT cannot help you if you are not a member.

NOTE: Most trade unions will refuse to deal with issues that have arisen before the application is made to join that trade union. For that reason UCCRSA recommends that Researchers join IFUT at the earliest possible oppourtunity. Do not wait for problems to arise. 

IFUT flyer (203kB)

Basic information regarding employment rights and entitlements is available from Citizens Information.

To qualify for redundancy a number of conditions must be met. It may be of interest to Researchers to know that even if they have a gap between contracts with the same employer, they may still be entitled to redundancy under reckonable service. More information on this topic can found here.

If you do qualify for redundancy there are specific redundancy procedures which employers and employees must follow in order to comply with the legislation.

Discussion of CIDs has been to the forefront since the introduction of the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act, 2003. If you enter a fixed-term contract of employment on or after 14 July 2003 and are employed on two or more such contracts for four continuous years and if the contract is renewed again after that, then the contract is deemed to be one of indefinite duration. This applies unless the employer has objective grounds for renewing the contract again on a fixed-term basis.

The Unfair Dismissal Acts 1977-2001 contain a provision that aims to ensure that successive temporary contracts are not used to avoid that legislation. Where a fixed-term or specified-purpose contract expires and the individual is re-employed within three months, the employee may be considered in some cases to have continuous service.

Therefore, even where an employer excludes the unfair dismissals legislation in the manner described above, a Rights Commissioner or the Employment Appeals Tribunal will consider whether the use of such contracts was wholly or partly to avoid the employee having the protection of the unfair dismissals legislation. If it is considered that this was the case and the contracts were not separated by more than three months and the job was at least similar, then the case can be dealt with as if there was continuous employment and the employer will be required to justify the dismissal in the normal manner.

The is some confusion in the area of whether the CID contract is the same as a permanent contract. In the case of a Researcher, if the work or funding comes to an end, does the University still have the right the terminate the CID? A recent pertinent case has been taken and won by IFUT against TCD whereby a Researcher with a CID was made redundant on the grounds that the funding for the project had ceased among other arguments. The court found in favour of the claimant and ordered their reinstatement in the College.

(http://www.labourcourt.ie/en/Cases/2012/April/LCR20292.html)

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