Guidance for Schools/Divisions on the engagement of short-term and casual workers

  1. Introduction
  2. Types of short term/casual arrangement
  3. Pay rates
  4. Eligibility to work in UK
  5. Holiday
  6. Pensions
  7. Re-engaging previous employees
  8. Procedure for engaging short term/casual staff

1.  Introduction

Short term and casual workers are not part of the main University workforce, but are typically engaged on a short term and/or irregular basis to meet a temporary or fluctuating need. Such workers are engaged via the TSS CAG team.  Please contact the TSS ( if you need a short term or casual worker, and they will take this forward for you.

The TSS CAG team does not cover the following scenarios, where separate arrangements and guidance exist:

For more information on the process, and to access the request form and 'How To' guides for engaging a worker via the TSS, please visit the TSS website:

2.  Types of short term/casual arrangement

There are essentially three types of arrangement, each of which involves different contractual documentation:

One-off or very short term arrangements (lasting less than 4 weeks)

It is not necessary to issue a contract in this situation.  However, in advance of the start date, it is very important that the School/Division set out in writing to the individual details of work to be done, hours to be worked, rate of pay, etc.,  in a letter of engagement, in order to ensure that no misunderstandings can arise at a later stage. 

Short term temporary arrangements (lasting between 1 and 3 months)

Individuals engaged on this basis are likely to be engaged to meet a very short term need.  They are likely to have defined working hours (which could be full or part time) that they are expected to work for the duration of the contract.  Such individuals are likely to be classified as employees of the University and Schools/Divisions should use the Short Term Staff Draft Contract (Office document, 36kB) in this situation.  Short term temporary contracts should never be issued for periods of longer than 3 months.  Where the work is going to last for longer than 3 months, or where the work is extended beyond the initial 3 months unexpectedly, managers should contact their Faculty/Divisional HR Team for advice.

Casual arrangements with no regular pattern (“as and when required”)

In this situation, the individual is engaged to work on a more flexible, ad-hoc basis.  Usually, the details of the work that may be offered will be intermittent and will not be known at the point at which the contract is issued.  Schools/Divisions should use the Casual Staff Contract (Office document, 34kB) ‌in this situation.  The contract is issued for a period of time (which could be longer than 3 months) on the basis that the University is not obliged to offer work and the person is not required to accept any work offered to them.  Such individuals are likely to be classified as workers (as opposed to employees).  Although not employees, workers have some of the same basic statutory rights as employees (including paid holidays, restrictions on working hours, and the right to be paid no less than the national minimum wage).

It is very important that these situations are monitored carefully, since regular periods and patterns of working can result in changes to the individual’s legal employment status and statutory rights.   More information regarding the different kinds of employment status and the right associated with this is available on the government’s website and further advice should be sought from the relevant Faculty/Divisional HR Team.

3.  Pay rates

Short term/casual workers should be paid at a rate which is appropriate for the work they are undertaking in line with the principles of equal pay.  The University has agreed standard rates for casual secretarial/administrative work.  For other kinds of work, this should be calculated with reference to the relevant pay scale. However, it should be noted that such individuals are not appointed to a specific grade or incremental scale, since the short term/casual nature of the arrangement  means that they are not undertaking the full range of the role.  Further advice is available from the relevant Faculty/Divisional HR Team.  

4.  Eligibility to work in UK

The University has a legal requirement to check that all workers have documentation confirming they are eligible to work in the UK.  It is the responsibility of the relevant manager within the School/Division to undertake this check for short term/casual workers, by following the document checking procedure on the HR website.   Managers will be asked to sign to confirm that this check has been undertaken when completing the individual’s fee payment set-up form.  All individuals must by law have their right to work in the UK checked, regardless of nationality, including student workers. The only exceptions to this are: a) those who are self-employed; and b) external examiners.  If there is any doubt, a right to work check must be done.  Further advice on this and all aspects of Right to Work in the UK is available from your Faculty/Divisional HR Team.

Students in the UK on a Tier 4 visa

Undergraduate degree students on a Tier 4 visa can work up to 20 hours per week during term time. However, the University permits a maximum of 15 hours per week during term time for all full-time undergraduates.  Undergraduate students are permitted by UKVI and the University to work unrestricted hours if they wish during Christmas, Easter and Summer vacations.

Taught Postgraduate (e.g. M.A., M.Sc.) students on Tier 4 visas can work only up to a maximum 20 hours per week during term time and the summer vacation (when they are writing up dissertations).  UKVI permits them to work with unrestricted hours during Christmas and Easter vacations.

Research Postgraduate (e.g. PhD) students on Tier 4 visas can work only to a maximum 20 hours per week and this restriction applies all year round.  

International Foundation Programme and Pre-Sessional students are restricted to paid work of up to 10 hours per week during term time, unrestricted at other times.

For further information on Tier 4 visa restrictions, please refer to:

Schools/Departments/Divisions must ensure that the legal requirements of the Tier 4 visa are being adhered to.  This includes check that any students employed on a Tier 4 visa are not breaching UKVI legal requirements due to work undertaken in other areas of the University.

5.  Holiday

All short term/casual workers accrue rights to paid holiday based on the statutory entitlement of 5.6 weeks (28 days) per year (pro rata depending on hours worked).  This includes all bank holidays and University closure days.  Details of holiday entitlement are included in the relevant contract templates. 

For individuals working defined hours on a short term contract, accrued holiday should be taken by arrangement with the relevant manager.  Individuals are responsible for claiming payment for any untaken holiday at the end of their contract.  Managers should ensure that individuals include details of this in their final fee claim form so that any untaken holiday can be paid in lieu at the end of the contract.  Any holiday that is not taken or claimed will be lost.

For casual workers working irregular hours, holiday is accrued on the basis of hours worked.  This entitlement is calculated at the rate of 12.07% of hours worked.  For example, if someone works 10 hours, they are entitled to 1.21 hours total paid holiday.  Managers should keep a record of hours worked and ensure that the individual’s final fee claim form includes details of any accrued holiday to be paid either at the end of the contract or the leave year as appropriate.

6. Pensions

Legislation (effective for the University from 1 April 2013) requires employers to provide all workers who meet certain criteria with access to a pension scheme.  This includes individuals engaged on a short term/casual basis.  Short term/casual workers at the University of Bristol who meet the criteria will be offered membership of the University of Bristol Support Pension Plan (UBSPP) and will receive individual communications from the Finance Office regarding this.  Where individuals meet specific age/earnings criteria, they will be automatically enrolled into that pension scheme.  Further information is available from the Payroll and Pensions Team. 

7.  Re-engaging previous employees

Advice should be sought from the Faculty/Divisional HR Team regarding the potential contractual implications, and from the Payroll and Pensions Team regarding the potential tax and pension implications, before seeking to re-engage a previous employee on a short term of casual basis.

8.  Procedure for engaging short term/casual staff

Step 1:  Identify need for short term/casual staff arrangement

The first step is to assess the need for support. In the first instance, you should contact the Temporary Staffing Service to discuss your needs and they will help you to decide which route to take. They will discuss the following with you:  

Managers are encouraged to seek advice from their Faculty/Divisional HR Team at the outset in identifying the most appropriate arrangement.

Step 2:  Seek authorisation to proceed

Having identified and agreed the type of arrangement required and expected cost with the relevant budget-holder, managers should seek appropriate authorisation to recruit where required.

Step 3: Engage short term/casual worker and issue contract

The manager should agree the detail of the work activity and rate of pay with the short term/casual worker and issue the relevant contract, using the Casual Role Descriptors (Office document, 20kB).  The individual must sign and return a copy of the contract to the manager, who should retain this for their records.

Step 4:  Check eligibility to work in the UK

As detailed above in Section 4 of this guidance, the individual must have legal eligibility to work in the UK.  All contracts are issued subject to this and it is the recruiting manager’s responsibility to check this before the individual starts work.

Step 5:  Complete Set-up form

As soon as the contract has been agreed, the manager should arrange for the individual to complete a new fee claim set up form.   The manager should then complete the manager’s section of the form and forward this to the relevant Faculty/Divisional Finance Team with the individual’s first fee claim form.  It is very important that this form is completed and forwarded to Finance on a timely basis since the individual cannot be paid without it.  Further guidance is available on the Finance Office website.

Step 6:  Work undertaken/submission of fee claim forms

Short term/casual workers are paid on the basis of a fee claim form which should be submitted on a monthly basis as and when work is undertaken.  It is very important (particularly for tax, National Insurance and pension monitoring purposes) that claim forms are submitted on a timely basis as work is undertaken.  It should be noted that payment cannot be made in advance of work being undertaken, and no arrangements or promises of payment outside of the normal pay cycle should be made with the individual without prior agreement with the Payroll team.

Step 7:  End of casual engagement

At the end of the short term/casual arrangement, managers should ensure that the final fee claim form includes details of any untaken holiday to be paid at the end of the period of engagement and that an end date has been included on the form to indicate to Payroll that this is the final fee claim.  This will trigger the closing of the individual’s payroll record and issue of P45.

If a short term/casual worker is subsequently offered and accepts an employment contract, it is very important that an end date confirming the end of the short term/casual engagement is still included on the final fee claim form.  It should be noted that employees of the University cannot be paid for additional short term or casual work via a fee claim form, so if there is a period of overlap between the short term/casual and new employment, any fee claims that are submitted for work undertaken once the new employment has commenced should be submitted via Proactis.