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HR Tips Q4 2017 – Managing the end of Fixed-term Contracts

As the end of the year approaches, we turn to consider your responsibilities when a staff member’s fixed term contract is coming to an end. This quarter’s HR Tip provides advice on the process you should follow to confirm the contract is ending or to renew the contract when you have an ongoing need for the position, including notice periods and severance pay.

Do I need to give notice that my staff member’s contract is ending?

When you employ a staff member on any fixed term basis, you must advise them before their contract ends, whether or not there is an ongoing need for the position. If you have determined that you no longer need the position, advise your staff member that their employment will end when their fixed term contract ends.

For staff specifically engaged on a ‘specific task or project’ or ‘research-only’ fixed term contract, there are minimum notice periods set out in the Enterprise Agreement.  The notice period ranges from two and five weeks, depending on the staff member’s length of continuous service and their age. If you don’t provide sufficient notice to your staff member in these cases, they will be paid in lieu of part or all of the notice period and the cost will be borne by your local area. See clause 2.3.3.1 of the Enterprise Agreement for the required notice period.

If however the work is not ending and you have an ongoing need for the position, the Enterprise Agreement requires you to offer your staff member further employment in that position (i.e. instead of someone else) providing they have met the following conditions:

  • They were employed in the position through a competitive and merit based selection process, and
  • They have performed satisfactorily in the position, that is, you have not been actively managing their unsatisfactory performance.

Is severance payable?

Clause 6.4 of the Enterprise Agreement sets out the circumstances in which a staff member who has been working under more than one consecutive fixed term contract is entitled to severance pay. The entitlement is linked to ‘specific task or project’ and ‘research only’ work. The applicable amount of severance pay varies from four to eight weeks’ pay, depending on your staff member’s length of continuous service.

No severance is payable where the University finds acceptable alternative employment for the staff member and they accept. If the University offers comparable alternative employment and the staff member doesn’t accept, severance won’t be paid. If you have a reasonable expectation that the staff member might be re-employed by the University within 8 weeks of their contract ending, you can defer the severance payment for that period.

How do I process the contract renewal or end?

Contract Review & Administration for Fixed Term (CRAFT) is our fully automated and integrated online system supporting the process to manage subsequent fixed term employment contracts. CRAFT will prompt you as the fixed term contract nears its end date. You can use CRAFT to finalise your staff member’s contract when it is not to be renewed.

By terminating the contract through CRAFT no later than two weeks prior to the staff member’s final payday you will ensure they receive their correct final pay. Late submissions will result in overpayments, which are difficult to recover once a staff member has left the University and could result in related costs being charged to the School/Branch.

Who can I contact for assistance?

For queries related to CRAFT and fixed-term employment contracts, the HR Service Centre is available by phoning 8313 3111 or emailing hrservicecentre@adelaide.edu.au.

 

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