As part of the teacher aide pay equity settlement (TAPE), a working group has been established to address issues around fixed-term employment. Both NZSTA and NZEI Te Riu Roa are members of this working group.
We have commenced a national review of our fixed-term employment resources, including how we provide advice to our members.
There are some key points to consider to when offering a fixed term:
- Ask yourself ’why is this role not being offered as a permanent appointment?’
- Is there a genuine reason to place a person on a fixed-term employment? Is it based on reasonable grounds? Essentially does it adhere to the requirements under section 66 of the Employment Relations Act 2000?
- Does your insurance policy require you to seek and follow appropriate advice, particularly in situations where a personal grievance has been raised? If so, and you have not done so, then it could affect whether the school is covered. Our advisers are very experienced and can help you review the letter of offer and whether it meets the requirements of compliance for fixed-term appointments.
One of the most frequently-used reasons for a fixed-term is based on funding arrangements. However recent case law (Morgan v Tranzit Coachlines Wairarapa Ltd  NZEmpC 66) indicates that this is no longer considered a genuine reason, especially if it can be proven that there has been a consistent renewal of contract funding from year to year. As noted in the first bullet point, in these situations the appropriate question is ‘why is this role not being offered as a permanent appointment?’
We acknowledge that it is common practice for schools to pool multiple funding streams to pay a teacher aide and that they rely on fixed-term appointments to manage the risk of uncertainty. Circumstances will vary from school to school and there will be situations where a fixed-term appointment is appropriate due to fluctuating funding. However, it will be up to the school to provide the necessary evidence to validate the fixed-term appointment and you should seek the appropriate employment advice before making such an appointment.
Finally, as noted in our earlier bulletins and during most recent webinars, schools should not be arbitrarily reducing teacher aide hours for 2021 as this is likely to have an adverse impact on your teacher aide pay equity-tagged operational funding for next year.
Patrick Ikiua, Regional Director (Northern) - Principal Advisor Employment