SARDI Contract Update

09 November 2018

PSA members have raised concerns that once again it appears that the department is dragging its feet in the legitimate claim of staff to have their contracts converted to ongoing employment.

We understand that PIRSA HR has been meeting with individuals and providing information which seems to be in contradiction to the commitments provided in writing to the PSA. The PSA was unaware these individual meetings with staff would be occurring.

The Department made contact with the PSA a week ago to seek a meeting. This meeting was about staff employed under section 45(3)(a) of the Public Sector Act 2009 who are deemed to be working on projects. It is our understanding the other categories of staff would be made ongoing. The PSA replied we would be available for a meeting.

What commitments have been made?
In a letter to the PSA from the Chief Executive, Scott Ashby on 1 November 2018, the following commitments were given:

… I have determined that all term contract staff engaged pursuant to section 45(3)(a) of the Public Sector Act who could not be reasonably characterised as working on a project will be offered ongoing employment.

In addition, any term contract staff employed pursuant to section 45(3)(c) of the Public Sector Act who has worked for more than 5 years will be made an offer of ongoing employment.

The PSA emailed PIRSA HR and sought a timeframe for these commitments. On 2 November 2018, PIRSA HR responded saying around 98 staff to be made ongoing in “about a week” and other staff (around 138) are being assessed at the rate of 30 per week.

The PSA may or may not agree with these assessments. This is why it is important to be a member so we can take up individual cases if the assessment is not correct.

The PSA’s expectation is for the Department to proceed immediately converting staff to ongoing in the two groups described above. We are waiting for a response from the Department for a time for the meeting for the third group. This meeting would be attended by PSA officials, our legal counsel and PSA Worksite Representatives.

The PSA has also reserved the right to pursue this matter in the SA Employment Tribunal.

In the view of the PSA, the Department has breached the Public Sector Act 2009 and needs to address the issue of use of contract employment for ALL staff as a matter of policy and to ensure employment complies with the law.

What if I am employed for less than 5 years?
Regardless of the length of your employment the Department cannot offer contracts that breach the Public Sector Act 2009. There are clear rules contained in the Act and the Agreement about the use of contracts and the length of these contracts. Being a member of the PSA will enable you to get advice about whether your contract is appropriate or whether you should be ongoing.

Next steps

  •  PSA meetings will be held next week – To ensure we cover all the issues of concern, email them ahead of to the meetings. Contact the PSA for meeting details.
  •  Join the PSA so we can support you during this process. We will only be able to review any Departmental decision or give advice about your contract if you are a PSA member. Please encourage your colleagues to join online here. A large number of staff have already joined in recent weeks.
  •  If your contract is about to end and you are offered a new contract, or if your contract has come to an end and you are not re-employed, please contact the PSA for advice. Do not sign a new contract without advice. For these enquiries please email PSA.
  • Stick together. It is crucial that staff stick together in their union if we are to achieve the best result for everyone.