Reasons for fixed term appointments instruction

Instruction statement

This instruction aims to provide guidance to managers and staff members in relation to fixed term appointments at RMIT.

This instruction is applicable to Academic, Professional and Vocational Education staff members.

Exclusions

  • Senior Executive staff members
  • Child care staff members

Instruction steps and action

Academic and professional staff

Fixed term employment means employment for a specified term or ascertainable period. The contract for the employment will specify the starting and finishing dates of the employment, or in lieu of a finishing date, will specify the circumstance(s) which would lead to the expiration of employment.

The use of “fixed-term employment” will be limited to the employment of a staff member engaged on work activity that comes within the description of one or more of the following circumstances:

a) Apprenticeship or traineeship

An apprentice or trainee employed pursuant to an apprenticeship or traineeship approved by the relevant State or Territory training authority.

b) Discontinued academic program/s

Where the University has taken a decision to discontinue or phase out a program or programs, and where the required work activity cannot be filled by redeployment, the University may use fixed term employment where the work required is to meet commitments to students in the discontinued program/s provided that:

(i) the use of fixed term employment for this purpose will not exceed three years; and

(ii) the letter of offer of employment include an undertaking that subject to demonstrated satisfactory performance, should the decision to discontinue the program/s be reversed, or should for any other reason the staff member’s position or substantially the same position continue beyond a three year period, the staff member will be offered that work for the period that it will continue or on a continuing basis.

c) Early career development fellowships

An Early Career Development Fellowship is a standard teaching and research academic position for a fixed term of up to three years in accordance with clause 56.3 – 56.12 of the Academic and Professional Staff Enterprise Agreement 2014. In summary, ECDF applicants will be restricted to people who have a PhD or have been an active candidate for their PhD for at least two years; and during the past three years have performed casual teaching work for an Australian University and have not been employed on a continuing basis at an Australian University.

d) New academic program/s

Where the University introduces a new program/s the future of which is uncertain and where the required positions cannot be filled by redeployment, the University may employ on fixed-term contracts staff whose work is in the new program/s, provided that:

(i) the use of fixed-term employment for this purpose will not exceed three years; and

(ii) the letter of offer of employment include an undertaking that should the program/s continue beyond a three year period, the staff member, subject to demonstrated satisfactory performance, will be offered employment on a continuing basis.

e) Performance Based Contract Employee

The University may employ on a fixed term contract of employment a performance based contract employee in accordance with Clause 14 of the Academic and Professional Staff Enterprise Agreement 2014.

f)Post-retirement

Where the employee has entered into a Post-retirement contract following normal retirement and where the employee has accessed superannuation benefits (or equivalent).g) Professional Experience Program – RMIT Graduates

The University may offer fixed term employment for Professional staff positions for up to two years duration to RMIT graduates to enable them to gain work-based experience in the area of their study, subject to a University cap of 15 at any one time. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander RMIT graduates will not be subject to this cap.

g)Pre-retirement

Pre-retirement Contract means a fixed term contract expiring on or around the relevant retirement date for a staff member who has declared her or his intention to retire, provided that the use of fixed-term employment for this purpose will not exceed five years.

h) Professional Experience Program – RMIT Graduates

The University may offer fixed term employment for Professional staff positions for up to two years duration to RMIT graduates to enable them to gain work-based experience in the area of their study, subject to a University cap of 15 at any one time. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander RMIT graduates will not be subject to this cap.

i) Recent professional practice required

Where a course or program in professional or vocational education requires that work be undertaken by a person who has recent relevant practical professional experience, such a person may be engaged for a fixed period not exceeding three years. For the purpose of this paragraph sub-clause, professional practice will be considered as “recent” only when it has occurred within the previous two years.

j) Replacement staff member means a staff member appointed to:

(i) undertake work activity replacing a full-time or part-time staff member or a number of staff members for a definable period for which the latter is either on authorised leave of absence or takes a temporary reduction in time fraction or is temporarily seconded away from her or his usual work area; or

(ii) perform the duties of:

    A. a vacant position for which the employer has made a definite decision to fill and has commenced recruitment action; or

    B. a position the normal occupant of which is performing higher duties pending the outcome of recruitment action initiated by the employer and in progress for that vacant higher duties position, or

    C. a vacant position in an area which is being restructured provided that the use of fixed-term employment for this purpose will not exceed two years.

until a full-time or part-time staff member is engaged for the vacant position or vacant higher duties position as applicable.

k) Research

Research means work activity by a person engaged on research-only functions for a fixed term contract period not exceeding five years.

l) Specific task or project

Specific task or project means a definable work activity which has a starting time and which is expected to be completed within an anticipated timeframe, including a period of employment provided for from identifiable funding external to the employer, not being funding that is part of an operating grant from government or funding comprised of payments of fees made by or on behalf of students.

m) Subsidiary to studentship

Where a person is enrolled as a student (studentship), employment under a fixed-term contract may be adopted as the appropriate type of employment for work activity, not within the description of another circumstance in the preceding paragraphs of this sub-clause, that is work within the student’s academic unit or an associated research unit of that academic unit and is work generally related to a degree course that the student is undertaking within the academic unit, provided that:

(i) such fixed-term contract employment will be for a period that does not extend beyond, or that expires at the end of, the academic year in which the person ceases to be a student, including any period that the person is not enrolled as a student but is still completing postgraduate work or is awaiting results; and

(ii) Fixed-term employment under this paragraph will not be made on the condition that the person offered the employment undertake the studentship.

The University will provide to a fixed term staff member a written notice of the University’s intention to renew or not to renew employment with the University. A fixed term staff member whose contract of employment is not renewed in circumstances where the staff member seeks to continue the employment will be entitled to severance payment in accordance with the relevant Enterprise Agreement.

Vocational Education teaching staff

RMIT will normally engage staff members on fixed term contracts in circumstances where:

  • Replacement of staff on leave is required
  • Funding cannot be regarded as ongoing
  • New an/or short-term program areas are introduced to the Institute or reducing numbers threaten the viability of an existing program
  • A staff member with current industry experience is required for a limited term

A Vocational Education teacher appointed specifically to replace a staff member on leave or other approved release shall perform the full range of duties including the face to face teaching load, which would have been performed by the teacher being replaced.

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