Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (675)

Holly Cairns

Question:

675. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if his attention has been drawn to the 11,200 lecturers working on a temporary or casual basis in recent years across universities and institutes of technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38532/20]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

Universities are autonomous institutions within the meaning of the Universities Act 1997, Technological University’s Act 2018 and the Institute of Technology Acts 1992 -2006. Institutions have autonomy in relation to human resource policies, subject to compliance with Government policy in respect of employment numbers and pay policy, and are not under the direct control of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

My Department has engaged with representative bodies of the Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and been advised that there are a number of factors that would lead HEIs to engage the services of temporary or casual teaching staff. These may include new activities, growth in student numbers, diverse sources of funding, or philanthropic activity.

Circumstances where a staff member may have in excess of two years’ service but not have a CID, would include where there is an objective ground for the position being filled on a fixed term basis, that is, there is an ‘objective condition’ (per the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003) such as arriving at a specific date, completing a specific task, or the occurrence of a specific event, that objectively justify the position being filled on a fixed term basis.

Typical examples would include replacement appointments for academic staff ‘seconded’ to School or institutional leadership roles; time bound philanthropic-funded activities; and appointments to new academic programmes, the continuance of which would depend upon student uptake.

Officials from the HEA, DFHERIS and DPER are currently engaged in discussions to agree revised principles for a new Higher Education Staffing Agreement which will update the current Employment Control Framework. The Department is supporting the IUA and THEA in the development of the Researcher Career Development Framework which aims to provide consistency in researcher classification and salary structure, including supporting HR practices in research career management. The Framework is close to finalisation and is an important initiative in tackling impediments to career progression and mobility of trained researchers.

Employers in the higher education sector are also required to operate in accordance with the provisions of national industrial relations agreements. In the event that a lecturer has concerns regarding work and contract conditions in any third level institution, they can raise this with their employer in the first instance and they also have a variety of dispute resolution options open to them.