Rules of temporary employment

Temporary employment effects the bargaining power of all teachers and support staff. IEU enterprise agreements have rules around temporary appointments.

Permanent employment is a core value of the union movement and is a corner stone of workplace conditions and bargaining.

The IEU is pursuing improvements to permanence for support staff in current enterprise agreement negotiations.

Temporary work has increased in the education sector. This may partly be attributed to improved parental leave entitlements resulting in the requirement for replacement staff.

However, there are rules in IEU negotiated enterprise agreements around the circumstances in which staff can be appointed temporarily.

Most enterprise agreements are clear in defining a ‘temporary teacher’. In summary, the most common legitimate reasons for use of temporary appointments are:

  • to replace permanent staff who are on leave (commonly parental leave or long service leave)
  • to replace a teacher whose employment was terminated (eg resigned) during the school year, and
  • due to planned staffing reductions for the following year (in Catholic systemic and Catholic independent schools) eg falling student enrolments.

Members offered a contract of employment should be advised in writing that the position is temporary and the reason why. There should also be mention of the actual staff member being replaced. Temporary appointments may not be used for the purposes of probation or because a teacher is not yet accredited at Proficient.

If an employer is suspected of straying from the rules of temporary appointments, members are urged to contact the union as early in the school year as possible to discuss.

Illegitimate temporary contracts affect the conditions and bargaining power of all teachers and support staff. This is a core issue for unionists and must be monitored vigilantly.

James Jenkins-Flint