EB8 strengthens conditions for temporary teachers

The DET State School Teachers’ Certified Agreement 2016 strengthens the department’s commitment to maximising permanency for temporary (contract) teachers.

The agreement, which came into force on 5 October 2016, is in accordance with the current government’s positive policy commitments. This is important to note in the context as the previous government prohibited such clauses within agreements.

As was the case previously, temporary (contract) engagements are to be restricted to bona fide short-term engagements of 12 months or less. The QTU can assist temporary teachers who believe they are employed in a substantive vacancy. Particularly during term one, it is important to have an understanding of whether you are backfilling for a colleague on leave or whether your position is a response to growth or is the result of a colleague’s resignation, promotion or retirement. The latter examples could indicate that the position is a substantive, ongoing vacancy and may provide an opportunity for a direct offer of permanency.

Further, schools, in partnership with regional HR, have the capacity, based on employees’ patterns of leave and the demands of the workplace, to risk manage offers of permanency even where there is not necessarily a clear substantive vacancy. Such approaches are frequently used in rural and remote settings and for schools in growth corridors.

It is worth reiterating that teachers can be appointed permanently at any time, pending vacancies based on workplace demand and/or geographical location. Where a temporary teacher has been continuously employed for three years with a cumulative break of no more than 60 school days, then the department is obliged to formally invite the teacher to participate in the conversion process. The offer occurs once each term, with eligible teachers being notified by email. This year’s date for offer emails to be distributed is 27 February, with a return due date of 17 March.

The QTU advises that temporary teachers interested in permanency should be familiar with their employment pattern. Where you believe your pattern should have led to an invitation, contact the QTU for assistance. For more information, the QTU’s advice brochure (www.qtu.asn.au/briconversion) explores in some detail the conversion to permanency process contained in the 2010 memorandum of agreement.

The certified agreement commits the department to monitoring temporary teacher numbers as a proportion of teacher establishment numbers, with a view to identifying any significant data that exceeds current levels of temporary employment. The QTU will continue to proactively monitor this data. Some increases in the number of temporary teachers can be linked to school-purchased positions, for example, from Investing for Success (I4S) funds. The QTU secured the following clause in relation to this:

“The parties agree to explore and implement options regarding the conversion of temporary employees under school-purchase arrangements with a view to maximising permanent employment”.

The 2016 agreement also contains a clear dispute resolution process to assist in addressing individual cases or trends of inappropriate temporary employment, and improves payment for the mandated student free days (SFD) in January. The new clause ensures that teachers engaged for a semester or more at the start of the year are required to attend and will be paid for the two mandatory SFDs.

Finally, some aspects of the previous certified agreement are now in the Teaching in State Education Award – State 2016, most importantly, reference to the minimum period of engagement being five days.

Kevina O'Neill
Assistant Secretary - Services

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 2, 10 March 2017, p15