Rates of insecure work – where workers don’t have permanent jobs – are quite high in Australia. Only 60% of workers are in full or part-time permanent employment.
This means many workers are employed on contracts or in casual employment arrangements.
In schools, many teachers are appointed on fixed-term contracts. However, there are restrictions on when fixed-term contracts can be used.
Fixed-term contracts can only be used where there is an “identifiable short-term need”.
Where an identifiable short-term need does not exist employees have a valid case to move from fixed-term to continuing (permanent) employment.
What is an “identifiable short-term need”?
Fixed-term contracts are often necessary when schools have a short-term need for additional staffing. Examples of short-term needs include:
- a special project on-going at the school;
- increased short-term funding;
- nominated leave of an existing employee;
- fluctuating enrolment numbers;
- class size issues;
- periods of maternity leave; and
- proposed school closure.
A fixed-term contract should never be treated as a probationary period for a teacher.
Fixed-term contracts should not exceed 12 months, except in exceptional circumstances.
Questioning a fixed-term contract
Our union is here to support members who believe they have reason to question their fixed-term contract.
Our expert industrial staff can help to determine whether a fixed-term contract should be challenged and provide support in seeking continuing employment.
In Queensland Catholic schools, IEU-QNT members recently won greater protections around the use of fixed-term contracts. Click here to read about how we helped a member secure permanent employment after a decade of fixed-term contracts.
If you’d like advice about your contract arrangements, contact our union for support.