Can these hours be made permanent? In short possibly…
What happened in 2020 and 2021?
In 2020, as part of the 2019 Public Sector Union Wages Agreement negotiation, we won a review by the Government of those employees who were on fixed-term contracts.
As a result, those TAs who had completed 8 continuous fixed term contracts at the end of December 2020 were automatically given permanency.
During this process, we raised concerns on behalf of our ESP/support staff, who were employed on low permanent hours and given temporary increases for a number of years and through multiple continuous contract extensions.
The Department of Education (DoE) stated: “Employment of an individual with a low base of permanent hours and continuously topping up to a higher number of hours through continuous extensions over a number of years is not a supported employment practice and Learning Services HR staff will work with schools to support the phasing out of this approach, whilst ensuring there is appropriate cover to meet student needs”.
DoE then where a permanent part time ESP/support staff had been employed for increased hours above their permanent allocation, continuously for a three year period (2018, 2019 and 2020), the average of those increased hours were offered to the employee as their additional permanent part-time hours.
This process was a one off, they have not been prepared to implement an ongoing system to make the hours permanent. The AEU is continuing to press for an ongoing system.
When does DoE say additional hours should be offered?
DoE on 21 October 2021 stated:
“Temporary increases above permanent hours are a legitimate method of employment where there is a specific need to cover a range of operational requirements such as maternity leave, workers compensation absence, leave without pay, long service leave or to cover specific needs of a particular student or students. In these cases temporary increases would normally be expected to extend for a maximum of one school year and under one employment contract for a temporary increase in hours.”
What rights do you have today?
Currently, there are no rules allowing permanent ESP/support staff to have their temporary top-up hours converted as their new permanent hours.
However, there is scope for us to assist you to attempt to negotiate to get your additional hours made permanent if you have been working them consistently for at least 12 months.
If you are interested in attempting to get your additional hours made permanent, please contact your Organiser or MSC. We can then consider the best approach for your situation.
How can we help?
If you are a permanent ESP/support staff working above your permanent hours for a few years then contact our MSC team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will consider your circumstances on a case-by-case basis and provide our support.
We may be able to communicate with DoE on your behalf and request your temporary top-up hours to be advertised on a permanent basis so that you can apply for it together with other eligible candidates.
We may also be able to support you at the Tasmanian Industrial Commission.