University of Iceland

Human Resource Policy

HandritThe University of Iceland Human Resource Policy

Approved by the University General Forum 12th November 2004.


The University of Iceland Human Resource Policy applies all employees of the university and its departments as well as institutions governed by the University Council.

The University of Iceland Human Resource Policy was approved by the University General forum, and came into effect on 18th May 2000. The policy is revised as and when necessary.

Members of the university's management team (the Rector and the University Council, Faculty Heads, Managing Directors and Heads of institutions) are responsible for the implementation of the Human Resource Policy. The Division of Human Resources supervises its execution.


The Objective of the University of Iceland Human Resource Policy is that the university fills its legal obligation as described in section 1 of the University of Iceland Act No. 41/1999 and answers the legitimate expectations made of the university and its staff. In order to do so, the university must employ competent and interested people that devote their efforts to the university and the research, teaching, education and service operations conducted there, and responding to the ever-changing requirements of students and society in general.

The human resource policy shall serve as encouragement and information for all university staff. It outlines the university's endeavour to be an attractive place to work, where interested, responsible people with common goals perform their duties in the spirit of equality. The human resource policy is meant to ensure the best possible working conditions and an opportunity to grow and develop through their work.

Mutual expectation

The University of Iceland expects all employees to demonstrate:

  • conscientiousness

  • responsibility, independence and initiative

  • team work skills

  • flexibility and adaptability

The employees also have expectations of the university as a workplace, and it is necessary for the university to honour these expectations, so that it is able to attract and retain competent and interested employees. The employees' expectations of the university are e.g. that:

  • they will be given the opportunity to shoulder responsibility and take part in forming the policies of the university, as well as decisions on issues directly concerning their work,

  • the responsibilities and duties of the management team is clearly defined,

  • job security is ensured, insofar as possible,

  • they receive reasonable pay for their work,

  • they are met with trust, consideration and frankness,

  • good cooperation and morale are boosted,

  • physical and social work environment are good,

  • they are given the opportunity of further education and advancement in their work,

  • equal rights are respected in all aspects of the universities operations.

Management principles

The university is administered in the spirit of the strategy of giving all employees an active role in the university's management and decisions, according to their ability and the nature of their position. It is sought to apply good and modern management principles are, that e.g. incorporate a positive attitude towards staff, and an effective flow of information. Members of the management team should liaise with staff on issues concerning the work place that are relevant to them, and endeavour to establish as inclusive a compromise on those issues as possible. Managers' decision making power and responsibility towards staff shall be properly defined and clear to staff. Managers shall work towards set targets and enable staff to make progress, both professionally and personally.

Information, communication and interaction

All general information on university policies and operations shall always be accessible and intelligible to staff. Managers are required to hold regular information meeting or employ other such means in order to inform members of staff about issues directly concerning their work.

The university wishes to support a good work-ethic, where there exists mutual confidence, loyalty, equality and frankness between all members of staff. Employees shall make a habit of conducting themselves with politeness and tact and expressing respect, tolerance and positive attitude towards each other. Any member of staff whose behaviour towards his or her colleagues is found to be inappropriate, e.g. sexual harassment or bullying, is considered to have violated fundamental rules about work place behaviour. The university has set procedures to deal with such issues. In order to create a good morale, the university will:

  • encourage employees to practice and cultivate professional relations with each other,

  • ensure that employees have easy access to information and data, e.g. by providing effective information technology systems,

  • emphasise that communication is based on respect for the diverse professional roles within the university.

Equal rights

The University of Iceland Equal Rights Policy is based on two main factors: A plan for gender equality, and a policy on the issues of the disabled. It is important that employees respect the Equal Rights Policy and conduct their work in its spirit.      The University of Iceland emphasises that equality and equal rights are assured in all aspects of its operations. This consists in, for instance, that it is forbidden to discriminate against staff, e.g. on account of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, nationality, religion or political persuasion.

Recruitment and career

The University of Iceland wishes to recruit and retain the services of qualified, competent and honest employees, that consider it desirable to work at the university on account of the procedures, facilities and work-ethics in place there, as well as because of the terms of employment offered.

Staffing requirements

All decisions on the recruitment of new employees must be carefully weighed and supported with arguments, consistent with long term plans for staffing requirements. It is important that the purpose of the position it is clear before announcements are made. A job description shall be available for all positions recruited for. When the employment of any member of staff ends, the job description shall be reviewed, and it shall be assessed whether to recruit for the position again.

Job announcements

The university considers it important as a rule to announce vacant positions. University regulations permitting waiving the obligation to announce positions shall only be applied in special circumstances. It is the university's ambition to take care in preparing job announcements and take equal rights issues into account.


The decision to recruit to a position shall be supported with arguments and based on an objective point of view. Generally, an engagement is initially probational, the probationary period being six months. This allows time to assess whether the position will be suited to the employee on a permanent basis, and vice versa. It should be a priority to use the probationary period well to assess this, e.g. by conducting an interview. When recruiting for a position that incurs an evaluation of qualifications, equality between applicants shall be ensured, applications shall be processed in a consistent manner, and applicants must not be discriminated against on account of gender, or any other factor.

Receiving and training new employees

The university endeavours to ensure that new employees shall be well received, and that they are comfortable in their position from the beginning. New employees shall be trained in the general operations of the university as well as in the aspect of the university's operations directly concerning their position. Furthermore, new employees shall be instructed on their rights and obligations. The direct supervisor, or the office manager of the faculty in question, is responsible for the new employee receiving this instruction. The Division of Human Resources can give support in this respect. Particular care must be taken with information to international members of staff. International staff that come to work at the university for an extended period are encouraged to take courses on the Icelandic language.

Professional development

It is a matter of great importance to the university to offer all employees solid in-service training, and maintain and expand that training by means of continuing education programmes. As the university is uniquely positioned as an Icelandic institution for research and further education and at the same time a part of the international academic community, it is important the employees are given the opportunity to pursue collaboration with domestic and international colleagues as possible, by attending conferences and going on study tours, provided that this is purposeful and known to be useful in their work. The university sets funds aside to cover the costs of sabbaticals and study leaves, since decisions on awarding sabbaticals and study leaves should preferably not be determined by the financial situation of each unit.

Employees should endeavour to adapt to the ever changing demands their position makes of them, such as brought on by professional and technical development. Furthermore, they should be willing to prepare for new and changed tasks. When possible, the university endeavours to acquiesce to employees' requests for transfer between positions.

Appraisal interviews

Appraisal interviews, held at regular intervals, are a venue for a discussion between staff and managers. The purpose of the interviews is to encourage employees' wellbeing, quality assurance measures and improved results, as well as bilateral channelling of information. The interviews are intended to make it easier for employees and managers to reach set targets, to enhance knowledge of these targets and the responsibility they incur, and to generate mutual trust. It is essential that appraisal interviews are prepared carefully, that they are followed-up on, that solutions are well thought out and confidentiality is respected in every part of the process.

End of employment

The university wishes to respect its employees requests regarding end-of-employment, e.g. by changing time commitment or the duties during the last semesters in employment. Employees in permanent positions are offered the opportunity of an end-of-employment interview when they leave. Such an interview gives the university a chance to benefit from the employees' suggestions on improvements to the universities operations. The Division of Human Resources is responsible for conducting end-of-employment interviews and storing data.

Working conditions

The University of Iceland endeavours to ensure the necessary conditions and facilities individual employees need to perform their duties well.


The University of Iceland wishes to offer its employees good wages, working conditions and facilities, so that the university may attract and retain the services of competent staff, in competition to the rest of the labour market, domestically and abroad. Salaries shall be decided on the basis of objective and transparent standards. Productivity evaluation of academic positions and appraisal of administrative and service positions shall ensure consistent and fair allocation of wage brackets. Each individual's contribution shall be assessed every year, job descriptions shall be available at all times and particular care must be taken that no member of staff is discriminated against on account of gender or any other factor.

Working hours and family responsibilities

The University of Iceland opposes excessive work load and wants to ensure that employees have sufficient time to rest. The university will, insofar as it is possible, take employees' wishes regarding work-hours and time commitment into consideration. Diligence and punctuality is emphasised.

The university endeavours to provide the conditions employees need to coordinate their professional and familial obligations. If possible, employees shall be offered the chance of a temporary time commitment reduction and flexible working hours if familial obligation demands it; this shall not affect their professional advancement. In particular, the university encourages fathers to make use of the opportunities to coordinate professional and familial obligation.

Leave of absence

When taking a leave of absence, employees must consider that the University of Iceland is an institution for research and further education, and many tasks are completed on the basis of a fixed schedule. Employees shall plan their leave of absence in consultation with their direct supervisor and closest colleagues.

Facilities and safety

The university shall provide each employee with resources that enable them to carry out their duties with care. The immediate supervisor shall, in consultation with the faculty, department or institution management or managing director, assess which resources, such as office space, equipment etc., each individual employee need in order to carry out his or her work. Special consideration shall be given to the needs of disabled employees.

The university endeavours to ensure a good working environment for all its staff, satisfying the strongest requirements for health, safety and work protection. The university's Health and Safety Committee offers advice on these issues.

Employees are themselves responsible for meeting to requirements regarding health and safety, in this way they make an important contribution towards safety in the workplace.

Health, fitness and social life

It is desirable that employees look after their health and lead a healthy life. For a modest fee, the university provides its employees with fitness facilities, thus endorsing better health and wellbeing.

The University of Iceland is workplace where no smoking, alcohol consumption or euphoric substances are tolerated. This e.g. includes that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs when working is prohibited. If it transpires that a member of staff has an alcohol or drug addiction, his or her immediate supervisor or colleagues have a duty to react and seek a solution in collaboration with the Division of Human Resources.

The university wishes to strengthen cooperation and company between its employees and enable the operation of various staff associations, e.g. by providing these associations with facilities when possible.


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