The Victorian Teaching Service (VTS) provides various employment modes to cater to different staffing needs. Understanding these employment modes and the provisions for managing employees, especially those with priority status or those undergoing probation, is essential. This article will outline key aspects of these employment modes and management strategies to provide clarity for current and prospective VTS employees.
Understanding Employment Modes
The VTS offers a range of employment modes to accommodate diverse staffing requirements. This flexibility ensures that schools are staffed appropriately, considering factors such as student numbers, curriculum needs, funding availability, and other specific school circumstances.
Management of Employees with Priority Status
Priority status is assigned to employees who fall under one of these categories:
- Ongoing employees identified as excess to the school’s requirements.
- Employees with compassionate transfer status.
- Former employees who are disability retirement benefits pensioners and fit to return to work.
A separate category, known as “redeployment status,” applies to fixed term education support class employees who have been employed for longer than 12 months in two or more fixed periods, with breaks between periods of employment not exceeding five weeks, excluding school vacation periods.
Rights and Support for Employees with Priority Status
Employees with priority status are entitled to redeployment at or below their current classification level and salary range, in accordance with the Department’s policy. They are guaranteed interviews for any positions for which they are applicants.
Furthermore, ongoing employees identified as excess to workplace requirements are provided with dedicated redeployment/career transition support external to the school. The employer will make all reasonable efforts to place employees with priority status in suitable alternative positions, especially in cases of school closures.
Education support class employees with redeployment status are similarly entitled to redeployment at or below their current classification level and salary range for the twelve weeks prior to the expiration of their fixed period of employment. They will also be interviewed for any positions for which they are an applicant.
Employer’s Role in Managing Employees with Priority Status
The employer has committed to managing employees with priority status in accordance with the arrangements set out in the agreement. However, if it seems unlikely that an employee excess to workplace requirements will be redeployed to a suitable position, other actions, including retrenchment, may be considered. Yet, it is generally expected that retrenchment will not be considered unless redeployment and retraining opportunities have been explored for a period longer than twelve months (or six months for education support class employees) from the date the employee was declared excess.
Importantly, the employer will only identify employees as being excess to workplace requirements in either Term 1 or Term 4, except in exceptional circumstances.
Probation in the Victorian Teaching Service
The employment of a person on an ongoing basis in the VTS is subject to a probationary period. The length of this period varies but does not exceed twelve months, or six months for education support class employees, as determined by the employer. However, for employees who have at least 12 months of service with the employer in the previous 24 months, including any period of fixed term employment, the probationary period will be up to six months for a teacher or three months for an education support class employee.
Evaluating Probationary Employees
A probationary employee’s employment may be confirmed or annulled by the employer at any time during the probation period. When the probation period expires, the employer must either confirm or annul the employment or extend the probation for a further period (not exceeding twelve months or six months in respect of education support class employees).
If the employment is not confirmed or annulled before the expiration of the extended period, the employer must confirm or annul the employment as soon as practicable. If the employment is annulled, the annulment will take effect from a date determined by the employer, provided that this date cannot be retrospective, and the employee is provided with any period of notice required under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Even during the probation period, employees are eligible for salary progression, subject to the requirements set out in the relevant clauses.
Understanding these aspects of employment in the VTS can help teachers and education support class employees navigate the system more effectively. Such knowledge is essential for ensuring a fair, productive, and supportive work environment.
Remember, if you’re ever uncertain about your employment status or rights, it’s always best to consult directly with your school administration or the Department.