Impact of temporary contracts on the quality of working life for academics and researchers

16 January 2017

Impact of temporary contracts on the quality of working life for academics and researchers

 Dr Rita Fontinha from Henley, together with Dr Darren Van Laar and Simon Easton from the University of Portsmouth, has investigated the issue – and discovered some surprising results.

How do temporary contracts impact the quality of working life for academics and researchers employed by universities in the UK? Dr Rita Fontinha from Henley, together with Dr Darren Van Laar and Simon Easton from the University of Portsmouth, has investigated the issue – and discovered some surprising results.

The research project compared the experiences of temporary academics and researchers with those of their permanent counterparts. The results showed that, on average, temporary staff consider that they have a better quality of working life than permanent employees, in virtually all aspects except for their levels of stress. However, the quality of working life for those academics and researchers who stay in fixed-term contracts for more than two years decreases significantly. This may be because a fixed-term contract is usually perceived as a stepping stone to a permanent one, and if this transition is not made, employees may feel that their expectations are not being satisfied.

The research also revealed that academics and researchers in fixed-term contracts at higher-ranked universities in the UK report higher levels of commitment to their institutions, while at the same time experiencing poorer general well-being.

 These results have important implications for human resource management choices and policy making in academia.

Reference details:

 Fontinha, R., Van Laar, D. and Easton, S. (2016) Quality of working life of academics and researchers in the UK: the roles of contract type, tenure and university ranking. Studies in Higher Education.

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