the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

8 December 2009

BECTU's BBC Division has set out some key principles which it hopes the BBC will adopt to improve its management of staff on fixed term contracts.

BECTU's Fixed But Fair Charter calls on the BBC to deliver clarity and consistency in its treatment of staff who are employed on a short-term basis.

Our aim in publishing the Charter is to give fixed term contract staff the support they deserve

The findings of a survey conducted by the union last month reveal on-going discontent amongst a substantial number of short term staff who often believe that their employment is ended prematurely, or that they are denied a proper explanation when a decision is taken not to renew a fixed term contract.

Such treatment can mean that staff are denied employment rights, lose income unnecessarily or experience stress because they are worried about the effect of questionning their treatment.

What the Charter calls for

The union's Charter calls for better communication, a clear statement of reasons when the BBC proposes not to renew a contract, guidance on an employee's rights under the Fixed Term Workers regulations, an end to the practice which forces staff to take a break between contracts, fair warning of the non-renewal of a FTC, written reasons when a dismissal takes place together with the right of appeal.

The union also wants better disclosure of staff's contractual entitlements and fair treatment in respect of training.

In several respects the principles set out in the Charter represent the BBC's existing policy, however recent experience indicates that some aspects of policy are either misunderstood or not observed in some quarters. 

"Our aim in publishing the Charter is to give fixed term contract staff the support they deserve. Fixed term staff have a number of rights not all of which they are aware of. 

"We hope that through our efforts, fixed term staff will feel more confident and that more managers will act on their obligations to this group rather than treating them as more easy to dispense with because of their nature of their contract," commented national official, Anna Murray.