New employment options for fixed term research staff
The Employment Agreement (EA) introduces a new employment category called “Funding Contingent Continuing Employment”.
Under these new arrangements, fixed term academic and general staff undertaking externally funded research will be able to apply for conversion to Funding Contingent Continuing Employment after three years continuous employment.
To be eligible for conversion there must be sufficient funding to support continuing employment or the staff member must have generic and transferrable skills that are needed by the University on an ongoing basis.
Staff with 10 years’ continuous service will be eligible for conversion on a case by case basis.
After conversion, staff will receive continuing contracts, which will be the same as those applicable to other continuing staff with the exception that special notice and severance pay entitlements will apply in the event that the relevant external funding ceases (see clause 46 of the EA).
The EA also provides for fixed term contracts for research staff to match the duration of the underpinning grant, subject to funding and availability of suitable work.
Limits on fixed term employment
Under the EA, fixed term academic and general staff appointments may be entered into only in the following circumstances provided for in clause 21 of the EA:
- to work on a specific task or project;
- to perform work that is Externally Funded;
- to work in a “research only” role for a term of up to five years;
- to work for up to three years in a new organisational area, function or program;
- to work for up to three years in an academic unit where there is a sudden unanticipated increase in enrolments;
- to work for up to two years in an area that is performing functions or teaching programs which will cease within a reasonably certain time;
- to replace another staff member while they are on leave, secondment, temporary transfer, higher duties, restricted duties, or are working part-time for a specified period;
- to fill a vacant position pending recruitment action where the position has been advertised or approved for advertisement;
- to undertake an apprenticeship or participate in a traineeship scheme which includes an approved course of training or study;
- to undertake a postgraduate fellowship;
- to undertake work for up to five years where a curriculum in professional or vocational education requires recent practical or commercial experience;
- pursuant to a “pre-retirement contract” for a period of up to five years; or
- to provide lectures as a guest specialist while maintaining primary employment elsewhere as a professional or specialist
These limits will apply only to new contracts entered into after the EA commences, and will not affect existing contracts.
The EA also includes procedures for the renewal of fixed term contracts (and notice of non-renewal), conversion to funding contingent continuing employment for contract research staff and severance pay entitlements.
Provision is made for casual employment, with casual staff to receive a 25% loading in lieu of paid leave, paid public holidays, notice of termination of employment and severance benefits.
Rates of pay for casual staff are set out in Schedule 1 of the EA.
For casual academic staff, these rates include payments to be made for all marking that is not contemporaneous with a lecture, tutorial or other teaching session.
Where suitable work is available throughout at least a full semester, the EA provides scope for casual academic staff to be engaged as “sessional casuals”, giving staff more predictability about their work pattern over the course of a semester.
Provision is also made for casual teaching work to be monitored at the Faculty level. Where casual staff (excluding students and staff with other primary occupations) are performing over 5% of the total teaching load performed by Level B to E staff, the Faculty must reduce casual staffing over the next two semesters, and provision is made for fixed term Level A positions to be established for this purpose.
Casual academic staff performing at least 60% of a full-time teaching load will also have access to fixed term ‘teaching focused’ roles, subject to meeting eligibility criteria which are set out in clause 217 of the EA.
The EA continues to allow casual staff to apply for conversion to continuing or fixed term employment, with the applicable procedures and eligibility criteria being specified in clauses 55 to 57 of the EA.