The Working Environment: Extension to Redeployment Period

Posted on: 16 April 2021 in Researchers

RSA with Academy UKRSA and Vitae

Dr Sarah Arrowsmith, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Women's & Children's Health and Dr Nicola Beesley, Veterinary Postdoctoral Fellow, discuss the extension to the time that researchers are placed onto the redeployment scheme at the University of Liverpool.

On 23 March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government placed the UK into lockdown, meaning all non-COVID-19 related research at Liverpool had to cease on campus. Researchers had to swiftly make the transition to working from home, faced with the uncertainty of when, how, or if, their research would be able to restart. Whilst some funders offered short extensions to contracts to compensate for the loss of time on research projects, the distribution of this was unequal creating an imbalance in the long-term impacts on careers.

Most researchers on fixed-term contracts did not receive any further support. The financial uncertainty that Universities were facing from the forecasted loss of revenue from a predicted downturn in student numbers starting in the new academic year, also meant serious cutbacks had to be taken at local levels. Many researchers’ contracts were due to expire imminently and any ‘lifelines’ of employment previously promised were gone.

As co-Chairs of the University’s Research Staff Association (RSA) at that time, we (along with our fellow RSA co- and deputy co-Chairs) consulted weekly with Prof Anthony Hollander, the Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Impact, about matters affecting PDRAs at Liverpool.  The overriding issue was (and still is) job security and the long-term impact of hiring freezes, lost time on projects, and lost research opportunity.

Whilst not a perfect solution (there is no magic wand), we successfully advocated for an extension to the time that researchers were placed onto the redeployment scheme, meaning that Liverpool PDRAs are now able to access redeployment opportunities at the University up to 6 months after the end of their contracts (in addition to the existing 3 months before the end of their contracts). This idea was borne out of discussions between liaison committee members and examples of good practice from other establishments that they brought to our attention. This also highlights the integrity of the systems we have in place at Liverpool for gathering information from our research community and being able to act on it.

Staff on redeployment can view internal vacancies up to 2 weeks ahead of being advertised externally, increasing their opportunities to find employment, whilst also retaining talent within the University. 

If you are a postdoc at Liverpool coming to the end of your contract, do speak with your supervisor or relevant HR colleague to ensure that you understand your rights and access to redeployment and job opportunities at the University.

Key takeaways:

  1. Liverpool PDRAs have access to redeployment opportunities up to 6 months after the end of their contract
  2. Existing staff can view internal vacancies up to 2 weeks ahead of being advertised externally