Organisational Development

Staff appraisals FAQ

Whether you're an appraisee or an appraiser, the answers in this FAQ provide important information about the University's appraisal schemes.

You can find guidance, appraisals forms and other documents that support the appraisal process for all staff on our appraisals resources page.

What does the appraisal process involve and is there an appraisal form?

While arrangements for different categories of staff vary in some respects, all staff appraisals at Sussex are an ongoing process of review, support and development, and feature a formal, annual meeting between the appraisee and appraiser. The meeting creates space and time to take stock of progress during the past year and to plan ahead for the next. This planning is summarised in a yearly appraisal agreement.

See our resources for page for more information and to download appraisal forms, guidance and supporting documentation.

Who needs to be appraised?

The Sussex Staff Appraisal Scheme applies to all staff on full time and proportional contracts. Other staff can join the scheme, but they should receive support and development guidance through the normal management processes.

Clinical Academic Staff within Brighton and Sussex Medical School have their own NHS linked appraisal documentation which can be found here.

When will I have my annual appraisal meeting?

It is up to senior managers in each school, division or unit to decide the most appropriate time for their staff to undertake annual appraisal meetings. As a general guide, the University's appraisal meeting season extends from January to the end of July each year.

Contact your school administrator, division director or head of unit office to find out about your appraisal meeting date and any other local appraisal arrangements.

Who will appraise me?

Normally appraisal in the Professional Services and other central units will be undertaken with the immediate supervisor or manager. Within schools and other academic units, appraisers will in the main be appointed on a hierarchical basis. Identifying appraisers and who they appraise is left to senior managers in each school or unit to decide.

Where can I get more advice and guidance about appraisals?

If you have questions after reading through the information here or on our resources page, please contact your Human Resources adviser for a confidential discussion about any aspect of the appraisal scheme.  

How do I find out about local appraisal arrangements in my school or unit?

Speak with your supervisor or manager to discuss local arrangements. For more information on the appraisal process see the first question in this FAQ.

When do academic appraisals need to be completed by?

The the academic cycle is August to the end of July. Appraisals must be completed no later than 30th October.  

If staff have been on maternity leave this year do they need an appraisal?

If they are back at work, yes. The ability to look back at achievement will be limited but the opportunity should be taken to agree objectives for the coming year and to talk through any re-entry issues that need exploring in order to support the returner.

If a staff member's fixed-term contracts is due to end in the coming months do they need a full appraisal?

It's up to the appraisee. We would remind managers that it is good practice to do a series of one to ones, from three months out from the end of a contract, in which you make sure that you support an individual to complete work, handover and think about next steps. And it's good practice to do an exit interview. So these activities may all replace the appraisal.

If a staff member is still on probation/due to leave are they exempt? (Some probations can be 2/3/5 years for academics.)

There is a regular review process built in to probation. So you should come into the appraisal process at the next obvious point after you complete probation. if you are due to leave then it's up to the individual whether they want an appraisal. Again, we would remind managers that they should be doing Preparing to Leave conversations from three months out and an exit interview.

If a staff member is on a fixed-term contract and also under probation does an appraisal be undertaken?

Probation trumps a fixed-term contract. If you are in probation you should be having regular reviews. They are in built into probation. So no need for an appraisal.

How do I, and what is the process to, undertake an appraisal if a member of my team is currently furloughed? – We understand we do not do this as per your outline in the Business Services Meeting.

You can't appraise someone on furlough. Furlough means no work at all, and appraisal is a management/staff activity that constitutes work. Once we move to part-time furlough, then it will be possible to do an appraisal with someone who is at work for part of their contract.

What kind of staff appraisal scheme will I encounter at Sussex?

The Sussex Staff Appraisal Scheme is a classic performance management scheme which focuses on reviewing and setting work priorities, and associated support and staff development objectives. The core principles are set out in the Sussex Staff Appraisal Scheme Policy, which you can download by visiting our resources for appraisers page.

The current scheme is reasonably new and was developed by a group comprising representatives from all categories of staff, and the unions. The scheme is not cast in stone but is changed periodically to reflect feedback from the University community. If you have any feedback on your appraisal experiences, email

I'm a Clinical Academic. What do I need for my appraisal?

See our resources page  for more information.

What is the Unit Appraisal Plan, and what should it contain? (Information for managers)

The plan should identify:

  • individual responsibility for appraisal within the school or unit, including the appraisers and who they appraise
  • a timetable of annual appraisal meetings for the current year
  • how appraisal outcomes will be taken forward including where staff should send the completed yearly Appraisal Agreement
  • guidance on gaining advice if a more serious problem arises within appraisal

For more information on compiling the plan see the unit appraisal plan 'at a glance' guide for managers. 

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Organisational Development
Human Resources
Sussex House
T 01273 606755 ext 4806