Applications by scientists for conversion from fixed term contract to permanent employment dismissed
The Public Service Arbitrator has dismissed applications for the conversion of two fixed-term contract employees to permanency on the basis that the employees did not meet the requirements of cl 2.1(a) and cl 11 of Public Sector Commissioner’s Instruction No. 23 (CI 23).
The Public Service Arbitrator, Commissioner Emmanuel, noted that CI 23 provides the pre-conditions that must be met for conversion of employees on fixed term contracts.
The employees are research scientists and have been employed by the Director General, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions for over seven years on a series of fixed-term contracts, with the latest both due to expire in mid-2021.
The Director General considered whether the employees were eligible to be converted to permanency under the terms of CI 23, and decided they were not eligible for two reasons:
- the reason for the employees’ engagements on a fixed term contract is a circumstance mentioned in the relevant industrial agreement, the Public Service and Government Officers SCA General Agreement (namely, they are working on projects with finite lives), and thus the requirement in cl 2.1(a) of CI 23 was not satisfied; and
- the external funding for the employees’ roles could not reasonably be expected to continue beyond the current funding arrangements, and thus the requirement in cl 11(b) was not satisfied.
The employees disputed the Director General’s decision that they were not eligible for conversion to permanency.
Emmanuel C found that the employees were each engaged on a fixed term contract to work on projects with a finite life that were funded only until 2023 or 2024. She found that, as the reason the employees were engaged on a fixed term contract was a circumstance mentioned in the industrial agreement, the requirement in cl 2.1(a) was not satisfied.
Emmanuel C also found that there was no proper basis to ground an expectation that external funding for the roles held by the employees will continue beyond the current funding arrangements, and as such, the requirement in cl 11(b) was not met either.
The applications were dismissed.
The decision can be read here.