UCL Human Resources


Bridging Funding Guidance

Guidance to facilitate the continued employment of research project staff when grant funding ends.

This guidance is being piloted for 18 months and will be reviewed. Should you have any feedback on this guidance please send this direct to employmentpolicy@ucl.ac.uk

Table of Contents

Forward Planning
Managing Funding Gaps / Delays
Bridging Funding Options
Decision Making
Notice Periods and Contract Extensions
Termination and Redundancy
Fairness and Equality
Appendix A.- Bridging Funding Principles


1. This guidance outlines the interim budgetary options that may be available to retain research project staff, (including researchers, technicians and project support staff) in employment, where it is anticipated that there will be a gap between the end of one external funding period and the commencement of another, including where a grant has been set up but there is a delay in the funding commencing.

2. It is recognised that the availability of finance and budgets for bridging funding will vary across Departments and this guidance is intended to highlight and encourage consideration of the potential options that can support continued employment of staff where applicable.

3. When considering the potential redundancy of staff working in research-related roles where their employment relies on external grant funding and this is due to end, the Principal Investigator (PI) should consider options to continue their employment until any new award funding starts.

4. The PI and others involved in decision making should refer to this guidance to ensure all eligible staff receive fair and equitable access to bridging funding. This includes eligible staff on long term absences such as maternity / adoption leave. 

Forward Planning

5. Taking into account the typical decision time for particular applications and potential procedural delays, it is recommended that the PI, in conjunction with their research team, should aim to begin the process of applying for further research grant funding six to twelve months before the expiry of their current funding. The funding may be in the same or related areas of research to the current grant.

Further useful information on applying for research funding and the procedures and processes to follow, is available at Research and Innovation Services. 


6. Where a gap or delay in external funding will occur, the benefits of bridging a funding gap between grants are:

  • helping to sustain research teams, experienced staff and retain expertise. 
  • enabling staff to avoid a break in employment where further funded work, for which they have appropriate skills and experience, will become available soon.
  • erducing the cost and work of re-recruiting staff with the appropriate skills avoiding redundancies and improving security of employment 

Managing Funding Gaps / Delays

7. The PI should discuss with their Head of Department (HoD) who will consult with the Finance Business Partner, the bridging funding options available for staff funded by the grant, who will otherwise be facing redundancy and where the principles in this guidance apply. Typically, this should take place at least six months prior to the funding ending but preferably earlier e.g.12-9 months, to allow sufficient time for managing staff termination processes and notice periods, should new funding not be secured.

8. Bridging funding may be available for a period of up to a maximum of six months for Category but will not normally exceed three months for Category B (see below). The actual length of any bridging funding if agreed, will be dependent on available funds.

A. additional funding has been secured, but there will be a gap or delay of less than six months between the end of the current grant funding and the start of the new grant; or

B. a researcher is named on a grant or fellowship application, but the outcome is unlikely to be known by the end date of the current grant but it will become known within three months of the end date.

Note: A longer initial period for Category B would be an exception agreed with the HoD. Where an award is confirmed but cannot start within the three months, it may also qualify for an extension under the category A rule but will not exceed six months in total.   

Bridging Funding Options

9. In eligible situations, the PI, in accordance with any local department staffing / approval processes, should look to support the continuation of employment using one or more of the options below, where these are relevant and available:

  • A ‘no-cost extension’ (agreed by the funder) if there will be significant unspent funds in the grant by the end date
  • Use of Discretionary Account Funding
  • Departmental Core Funding (DCF). Where DCF is requested, a business case must be prepared, summarising the work to be performed and the value to the department in line with this guidance.  Approvals are made by the Head of Department and the Finance team for the faculty and will be subject to the department identifying off-setting savings in their core budget (pay or non-pay).  Local processes may also involve the relevant Departmental Manager (DM) and/or Faculty Director of Operations (DoO).
  • Other third-party funds to undertake alternative work (e.g. grants, consultancy work). 

Decision Making

10. The decision maker(s) should follow the principles in Appendix A and take into account the following factors:

  • the merit of the proposed project / programme of work 
  • coherence or alignment with UCL (or department) research strategy
  • evidence that the performance of the intended beneficiary is at a satisfactory level, for example, by reference to appraisals
  • evidence of the exit strategy (e.g., a new research grant award). 

11. Decisions together with the details of the case and the supporting evidence provided plus any relevant approvals obtained, should be recorded on the Bridging Funding Form by the PI. 

Notice Periods and Contract Extensions

12. Information on the steps needed to extend notice periods or contract end dates is available in UCL’s Termination procedure for Fixed Term Contracts and Redundancies. The appropriate approach to be taken will depend on the length of the extension to funding.

13. It is important to be mindful that potential redundancy payments (including any pension strain) will need to be factored into any calculations and costings, should the employee’s employment come to an end at the conclusion of any extension to their contract or notice period. 

Termination and Redundancy

14. Where options have been explored and it remains a possibility that a member of staff’s contract will end, a consultation meeting should be arranged with the member of staff by the line manager, in line with UCL’s Termination procedure for Fixed Term Contracts and Redundancies, at least 3.5 months before the proposed end date of the contract (to allow for a three month notice period, where applicable). 

15, The UCL Termination procedure for Fixed Term Contracts and Redundancies provides further information on managing staff at risk of contract termination.

16. To avoid any overpayments, the appropriate leaver instructions and payroll cut-offs should be followed when processing someone as a leaver, to ensure they are submitted within the deadline.  


17. Managers and staff should familiarise themselves with the Redeployment Policy to ensure staff redundancies continue to be minimised.  

Fairness and Equality

18. It is important that any decisions to provide or not provide bridging funding are transparent, including written reasons, and that a record of applications and decisions is retained by the Department.

19. Departments will manage the application of bridging funding locally and ensure that it is applied fairly with respect to these guidelines and UCL's obligations under equalities legislation. 

Appendix A

Bridging Funding Principles:

  1. The Head of Department agrees the area of research of the intended beneficiary(s) of the funding is a priority for UCL or the UCL department’s research activity, and the researcher is necessary to support this.
  2. Normally, the intended recipient(s) has been or will have been continuously employed by UCL for a period of at least 18 months at the start of the bridging period.  This may be aggregated service where there have been short breaks between contracts due to the absence of bridging funds in the past.
  3. All eligible members of staff on the project, who are at risk of redundancy by virtue of funding ending, have been given fair consideration for bridging funding.
  4. The relevant PI has prepared an appropriate work programme on which the intended recipient(s) will be employed, between the expiry of the present funding and the commencement of the new secured project. Bridging funding should not be used to support work on an earlier grant award which has simply overrun but may be used for work that naturally follows the end date.
  5. Where new grant funding is forthcoming, every effort has been made by the PI to agree the earliest possible start date with the funding body, to minimise the period for which bridging funding will be required. 
  6. UCL’s Research and Innovation Services (RIS) procedures and processes will apply to applications for external research funding and awards.
  7. Evidence of a new award OR that a grant or Fellowship application has been submitted, must be supplied and included with the Bridging Funding Form. In the latter case the PI will be expected to state their view on the strength of the application
  8. For category A, where the start date of a new confirmed award/grant results in a longer gap or delay, consideration may be given to agree a funding period up to a maximum of six months. For category B, the period of agreed bridging funding will not normally exceed three months. (see para 8) 
  9. All periods of bridging funding being provided (see principle VIII) must have the agreement of the Head of Department (unless delegated or a different funding rule applies) and all other required approvals in place before the funding commences.