Union support sees more members in secure jobs
Two members at a Catholic secondary college in Queensland have successfully transferred to full-time continuing positions, with the collective support of our union, their school Chapter and principal.
The two teachers in question had been on fixed-term contracts since the beginning of 2016 and were told by the previous principal they would be transferred to continuing positions within 12 months.
The two teachers and another colleague were hired after three teachers resigned from full-time continuing positions.
However, all three new appointments were fixed-term contracts.
Earlier this year, all three applied for continuing status and only one was offered a continuing contract.
The remaining two were told they would have to undertake an interview process before being appointed to a continuing position.
IEUA-QNT Industrial Services Officer Michael Featherstone intervened in the process as an industrial representative for both members.
“There were a number of concerns our union had including the validity of the reasons for each of our members’ fixed-term contracts, and whether these were actually for an ‘identifiable short-term need’,” Michael said.
“We also did not accept the proposition of our members undertaking an interview process again.
“They had also completed an interview process prior to their teaching appointments in 2016 and since then have had no issues raised regarding their performance or conduct, having only had positive feedback regarding their performance.
“In addition, their colleague was not required to participate in an interview before being offered their continuing position.”
After union representations were made to the employers to clarify their reasons for using fixed-term contracts and why the teachers were asked to undertake the interview process, the two teachers were offered full-time continuing contracts with no requirement to participate in an interview process.
Professional and personal toll
The use of rolling fixed-term contracts is a major issue in schools, which is locking many employees into the uncertainty of insecure work.
IEUA-QNT members have shared the often devastating impact insecure work has on their personal and professional lives.
Our union is continuing to fight for better protections against insecure work and particularly rolling fixed-term contracts through collective bargaining.
We also encourage members who believe that they have been appointed on a fixed-term contract without the presence of an identifiable short-term need to contact our union for support.
If you believe there are issues with your contact or would like advice on converting to continuing employment, contact our union today on FREECALL 1800 177 937 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When can an employer use a fixed-term contract?
Fixed-term contracts should only be used by employers where there is an “identifiable short-term need”.
Examples of such short-term needs include:
- special projects;
- proposed closure of a school;
- short term funding;
- filling the position of a specified employee who is on nominated leave from the school;
- filling the position of an employee arising from a resignation, where such position is declared vacant and no suitable permanent employee is available;
- accommodating temporary enrolment fluctuations in a school resulting from a specific short-term factor such as a population influx during the construction period of an industrial development;
- providing release time for senior administration staff in a school where the relevant arrangements vary for a specific short-term arrangement; and
- employing a part-time teacher to address class size issues and/or enhance curriculum offerings on a short-term basis.
A fixed-term contract should never be treated as a probationary period for a teacher and should not exceed 12 months, except in exceptional circumstances.