Member fights unnecessary fixed-term contract

12 November, 2020

An IEU member in a Queensland Catholic School is fighting for a full-time permanent position, after working the same hours in the same role on a fixed-term contract for a number of years.

The member in question has been a teacher, working in a school for the past four years.

Prior to their appointment, the role was a permanent position; however, the employer maintains that it is a ‘specially funded position’.

After being told their contracted hours would be reduced for 2021, the member called our union to double-check whether this was genuine and if the position should be a permanent.

IEU Industrial Services Officer Rosey Cavallaro said the member was right to contact our union for advice on this matter.

“Fixed-term contacts should only be used in specific circumstances and the new Queensland Catholic School agreements provides more clarity on the circumstances which constitute genuine short-term needs,” Rosey said.

“Our union made representations on the member’s behalf to their employer questioning why the position was fixed-term rather than permanent, particularly given the position had previously been permanent and had not changed hours year-to-year.

“The employer could not provide sufficient reason as to why and ultimately made the member permanent full-time.”

Fixed-term contracts have professional and personal toll

The use of rolling fixed-term contracts is a major issue in our schools – locking many employees into the uncertainty of insecure work for years.

IEU-QNT members have shared the often devastating impact insecure work has on their personal and professional lives.

A key member win in the recent Queensland Catholic School collective negotiations was clearer limits on the use of fixed-term contracts to only genuine short-term needs.

Genuine short-term needs include:

  • Replacing another employee on leave.
  • Temporary changes cause by a specific short-term factor.
  • Special projects with a specific end date.
  • Short-term funding of a specific position.

Fixed-term contracts should also not be used as a probationary period.

A member fact sheet on these new provisions and key actions that all IEU Chapters in Queensland Catholic schools can be accessed by contacting our union via industrial@ieuqnt.org.au or by contacting your organiser.

Our union is continuing to fight for better protections against insecure work and particularly rolling fixed-term contracts across the sector.

We encourage any member who is unsure of their fixed-term contract to contact our union for advice and support on FREECALL 1800 177 937 (QLD) or 1800 351 996 (NT).

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