Our union has helped a member secure a continuing position in her workplace after being employed for 10 years on rolling contracts.
IEU-QNT Industrial Officer Danielle Wilson said the member contacted our union for advice after feeling she was being overlooked for continuing positions by her employer, despite her track record as a loyal, experienced and exemplary employee.
The member was also concerned as there seemed to be no clear process for being appointed to an ongoing position in her school, given she witnessed others at her workplace being offered permanent teaching positions while she remained on fixed-term contracts.
“Given her long-serving loyalty to her employer, our member was understandably upset when she noticed a pattern of new staff who had been at the school for significantly less time than her being appointed to ongoing permanent positions, while she was overlooked,” Danielle said.
“The member believed her employer had overlooked her for a continuing position due to her mature age and status as a more experienced and expensive teacher.
“If for some reason her contract had not been renewed, the employer could have tried to argue that our member wasn’t eligible for redundancy either because she’s a fixed-term employee, despite her 10 years of service.
“Our member took the right action by contacting our union for advice and support, so that we in turn could advocate on her behalf to her employer to be made permanent,” Danielle said.
Industrially unsound excuses
“One of the reasons we have seen some employers use to justify the use of fixed-term contracts is ‘temporary enrolment fluctuations’,” Danielle said.
“The problem with that is, fluctuations do occur, and student numbers move ever so slightly up and down, every year.
“In our view, that is not a genuine reason and there are very few situations where this reason can be justifiably used.
“The only real circumstance where employers can cite temporary fluctuation in enrolments is in emergent instances like natural disasters, where a school may have an unexpected influx of students while another school is under repair,” she said.
Fixed-term contract overuse problematic
The use of rolling fixed-term contracts remains a major issue in the non-government education sector – locking many employees into a future of uncertainty and stress.
Our union continues to fight for better protections for members, including limiting the use of rolling fixed-term contracts by employers.
A key member win in the recent Queensland Catholic School collective negotiations was clearer limits on the use of fixed-term contracts so that they are only used by employers for genuine short-term needs.
Genuine short-term needs include:
- Replacing another employee on leave.
- Temporary changes caused 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.
Our union is here to help
A fact sheet for Queensland Catholic school members on these new provisions and key actions IEU Chapters can take in regard to them in their workplace, can be accessed by contacting our union via email@example.com or by contacting your local IEU organiser.
We encourage any member who has any questions or concerns about their fixed-term contract to contact our union for immediate advice and support via FREECALL 1800 177 937 (QLD) or 1800 351 996 (NT).