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9th November 2007 at 00:00

Lecturers - many still mourning the passing of the "silver book" contracts of yesteryear - are struggling to keep up with the latest expectations being placed upon them as they continue their journey from silver book to silver hair. So you would think human resources departments dealing with this sensitive issue might adopt a softly-softly approach. Well, think again.

A letter circulated by a certain college, reminding a hesitant employee to hurry up and sign their contract for a restructured post, referred no fewer than five times to the need for an "unreserved acceptance" of the contract.

It did, however, attempt to suggest some degree of flexibility by leaving the way open for a discussion if any of the terms caused concern: "If you have any specific concerns about any of the contract terms, please contact me on my mobile number to arrange a mutually convenient time for an informal meeting or telephone discussion.

"If there are any arrangements that the college can reasonably make to address any such specific concerns and to enable you to accept the contract without reservation, I would be happy to consider them."

Otherwise, the college warns, termination of employment could follow.

In other words, you can accept the contact unreservedly or we can have a little chat, after which we'd like you to, er . accept the contract unreservedly. Or it's P45 time.

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