A legal contract is not slavery 2

July 13, 2007

Along with Robert Cook, I am one of those at Sheffield University who have been advised that they are contractually obliged to remain in post for the research assessment exercise.

Despite having given a notice period of over five months, I was informed that I had missed a hitherto unknown resignation deadline by a few days. Formal notification from human resources claimed this is all about defending the interests of the politics department and the university.

To resign three months before the end of an academic semester sounds reasonable, but Sheffield only has two semesters separated by a summer break. Therefore, there are two key points in the year, three months before the end of semesters, when it is technically permissible to resign. Thus, despite resigning in March, I was told that my resignation wouldn't be effective until next February.

Now one can talk about justice, flexibility and contractual obligation, but I would like to see a corresponding case where the university was told by an employee that such a deadline had been missed, and they'd have to wait 11 months instead of three before dismissing them.

Duncan Kelly
Sheffield University

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