Leader: Ask us about your rights

April 22, 2005

This week, The Times Higher launches an advice column in its Working Knowledge section. It will answer readers' questions on employment rights, from concerns about fixed-term contracts to maternity rights and pension worries.

We have brought together a panel of experts, drawn from employers, trade unions, research councils and working academics, to give their views on the increasingly complex employment issues facing academics today.

Implementing the new pay framework, complying with the European Union fixed-term regulations and understanding the rights of an hourly paid worker can be contentious areas. The devil is in the detail. There are not enough forums for academics, particularly those who may feel marginalised in their universities, to air concerns and receive advice from experts.

We hope that the column, by answering queries each week, will provide this space. It is aimed at young readers who have often have to work in a highly casualised environment and senior academics who are trying to strengthen and build departments in a world of global competition. In our first column, an academic facing redundancy at the end of a research contract asks if EU regulations designed to minimise fixed-term contracts amount to little more than semantics.

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