2.2.5 Term Appointments

Policy Section: Employment

Subsection: Hiring Practices

Effective Date
October 15, 2018
Previously Updated
January 01, 2014
Applicable to
Hiring Managers
Responsible Executive
Romy Riddick, Vice President for Human Resources
Responsible Office
Office of Human Resources
Policy Description

Term appointments are typically established for positions funded for a specified period of time, often assigned to a specific project or research grant. Term appointments are generally intended for positions where the work is required for a minimum of five months but normally not to exceed five years. These are positions where the need for an employee’s service is not ongoing or is time limited, such as project work, extraordinary workload, uncertainty of future funding, or periods of organizational transition or uncertainty.

Term appointments may be extended with prior approval assuming satisfactory performance, ongoing need and available funding. Extensions of fixed duration do not imply a commitment of employment beyond the duration of the term appointment.

Application of the Policy

The Office of the Provost and the Office of Finance and Treasury may need to, in accordance with established guidelines developed by the Office of the Provost and the Budget Office, approve the funding for increases to the headcount, i.e., additions to staff and/or increases to part-time duty time, as well as extensions for term appointments.

Term appointments of a fixed duration have a date of termination stated in the offer letter issued to the employee at the time of hire. Term employees are subject to the same University policies and regulations applicable to regular staff except as those modified by their offer letters, approved extension notifications, or other documentation.

Search Procedures

Hiring a term employee follows the same employment search and selection policies and processes used in searches for all regular position vacancies. In the rare case in which a posting waiver was approved for a term position, a competitive search normally must be engaged if that position were to convert to a regular position. The vice provost for institutional equity and diversity and the vice president for human resources must approve all exceptions. Refer to policy 2.2.1 University Job Posting.

Benefits Eligibility

Staff members working in a term position are benefits eligible. Refer to the Benefits Eligibility Tool. However, certain other benefits may not be available.

Request for Extension of a Term Appointment

Managers who need to extend the length of a term appointment must submit, after consultation with their Senior HR Manager a formal request to the Office of the Provost and the Budget Office for approval. Once approved, HR and/or the department manager sends the affected staff member written notification of the extension.

Conversion to a Regular Staff Position

Managers who wish to convert a term appointment to a regular staff position should discuss it with their senior HR manager prior to submitting a formal request to the Office of the Provost and the Budget Office for approval.

Once approved, HR, in collaboration with the department, verifies the classification of the position and reviews the previous search process for completeness.

The University credits the employee’s combined years of regular and term service. Refer to policy 5.1.3 Crediting of University Service.

Rehiring University Retirees

University retirees are eligible to enroll in retiree health insurance upon retirement. Due to prevailing complex benefit regulations, rehiring retirees as temporary or regular workers must be done in accordance with the following rules in order to avoid adverse impact on their retiree health insurance:

  1. If not yet retired, plan for a phased retirement by reducing the work schedule immediately or over time, and/or negotiate a future retirement date.
  2. If rehiring a retiree of Princeton University, the manager must contact HR Client Services and the retiree must meet with the Benefits Team prior to offering/accepting the position. Managers may not hire a retiree of Princeton University through a temporary agency. 
  3. Retirees who have not completed a successful background check within the past six months prior to being rehired may be required to undergo and complete one successfully, depending on the position.
  4. Most retirees are rehired into benefits-eligible or non-benefits eligible term positions. Because of the complexities associated with rehiring retirees, contact the senior HR manager for guidance. How to rehire University retirees depends exclusively on their anticipated work schedule as described below:

Work Schedule: Hours Set Weekly or Expected Weekly Average per Month

When Hired

Employment Options

20 hours or more

Within 180 days of retirement or last day worked

Term, benefits-eligible position

Less than 20 hours or as needed,
e.g., on-call

Within 180 days of retirement or last day worked

Term, non-benefits-eligible position

20 hours or more, less than 5 months

After 180 days of retirement and last day worked

Term, non-benefits-eligible position

20 hours or more,
5 months or more

After 180 days of retirement and last day worked

Term, benefits-eligible position

Less than 20 hours, less than 9 months

After 180 days of retirement and last day worked

Term, non-benefits-eligible position

For assignment that might extend beyond 9 months, contact the senior HR manager as early as possible.

Notice of the Expiration of the Term Appointment

The University gives the employee at least one month’s notice regarding renewal or nonrenewal of the term appointment. Whenever possible, the manager should make every reasonable effort to notify the employee three months prior to the expiration of the term appointment.

Expiration of the term appointment is not considered a layoff.


Termination of a term appointment may occur in one of the following ways:

  1. Expiration of the Term: The staff member's new hire offer or extension letter, as applicable, serves as notice of termination. The staff member, therefore, is not eligible or entitled to receive any additional compensation other than unused accrued vacation.
  2. Termination for Unsatisfactory Performance or Misconduct or Cause Prior to the Term Date: The staff member is not eligible or entitled to receive advance notice of termination or severance other than what is provided for in policy 5.1.5 Probationary Period, policy 4.3.2 Termination for Unsatisfactory Performance or policy 4.3.3 Termination for Failure to Comply with University Policy (Misconduct/Cause).
  3. Termination for Other Reasons Prior to the Expiration of the Term: Termination for other reasons before the expiration of a term appointment may include but are not limited to change in business needs, circumstances, funding, or conclusion of a project. The staff member may be entitled to receive a one-time lump sum separation payment equal to the lesser of (a) the salary the staff member would receive had the individual worked through the remainder of the term appointment or (b) three months' salary calculated at the time of termination. The payment provided is in lieu of the notification and severance pay section of policy 4.3.4 Elimination of Position (Layoff).
Update Log

10/15/2018: Revised to include information about rehiring University retirees.