New workplace law excludes higher education staff

Across Australia, fixed term workers will be getting new rights to secure work next week, but not higher education workers.

Since its election, the Albanese Government has been working to improve the rights of employees. For example, the Closing the Loophole Bill currently before the Senate, will be important in improving the rights of casual employees in our sector.

In 2022 a law was passed limiting fixed-term contract employment to two years, and imposing strong criteria for what jobs can be fixed-term. This will come into effect on 6 December.

After analysing the law, NTEU’s conclusion is that an unintended consequence of the drafting is that it will probably not limit the use of fixed term employment in higher education.

We will explore this matter further in an online meeting scheduled for December 12th at 2pm AEST.

For this reason, the Union reluctantly agreed to a delay in the operation of the law to 30 June 2024 in universities. This will allow time for the Union to campaign for legislative change and take all the necessary actions to ensure that University fixed term employees receive the same benefits as other workers.

This delay will have no impact on your current conditions of employment negotiated by the NTEU in your enterprise agreement which will remain unchanged.

Whether we can achieve these outcomes will depend upon the active support of university workers, especially those employed on fixed term contracts.


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