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Casual contract termination


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#1 StoneFoxArrow

Posted 14 September 2019 - 07:53 AM

I'm going to try not to be too identifying and may delete, so please don't quote.

My DP has two casual APS jobs, they both require him to "reapply" for his job once a year. He's worked at one for 10 years and the other for 3. They both have a high volume of work certain times of the year (the same period for both) and so request that he be more "available" during those periods. He can't as they have very different requirements, so he tries to balance it. Both jobs know about each other and both are technically providing a service for the same group of people. For those weeks of high workload (less than half of the year) he'll make his availability half the days for each and the rest of the year, the job he's had for longer pretty much has no work so his availability for the other is normal (i.e. 5 days a week) unless we have something like a holiday planned.

He prefers the job he's had for 10 years, so he ends to prioritise it if he needs to choose for any reason. However the work is pretty much non-existent outside of those peak periods, so we were both keen for him to keep the other job too.

He's just had emails basically stating that the one he's had for 3 years, won't be renewing his contract. So, effectively letting him go. They're always recruiting more staff, so it's not a matter of redundancy or anything. He's pretty sure it's about his availability and because there is a new person in the position that would make a decision like this. The department is generally really badly run, but that's a different vent, and this position has had a lot of different, inexperienced people through it in the last few years. DP has never met the guy who's in the position right now.

He hasn't had a sit down meeting, or been told anything in person. He was cc'd into an email about returning assets prior to his "last day in the department" and received an email asking him to complete a leaving survey. That was it. He's fairly sure it wasn't a mistake, but isn't sure what to do.

I know they're allowed to not renew his contract, but I would have thought they should still go about it properly - i.e. tell him ahead of time what's happening, give him an opportunity to explain/negotiate, at the very least sit down and clearly state to him "we're not renewing your contract" otherwise it's just so ambiguous.

Also the process that he thinks has led to this happening is a bit silly: as a casual, he has to provide his availability through a system. Someone on the other end either approves or rejects it (although even that doesn't make sense to me as my understanding is that casual employees tend not to be required to do any particular hours unless it's stated in their contract - it's not in this case). His availability always gets rejected (he assumes because he's not being "available enough," but he has to be at work, to log in to the system to see the rejection. There isn't a way to log in from home.

Because it gets rejected, the people who allocated shifts assume he is available all the time and roster him on for shifts he can't do (usually because he has shifts at the other job already allocated), so he has to hand them back. He thinks the head of his area heard about this and that's what has led to him being "let go".

He's pointed out that if it wasn't one job not-renewing his contract, it would be the other. He doesn't seem to be able to please them both and they both seem to want to "compete" with each other for his availability. Also, a part of the reason he was hired for the second job is because he had the first job (i.e. they saw it as a positive that he already had experience working with that group of people).

It's going to be hard for him to find a job that will basically accept that he isn't available for up to 20 weeks because of his other job. However I do think that if he could find a similar job that doesn't have a peak period at the same time, that could be a good thing. There are a lot of benefits of having this job though, and he'd definitely prefer not to have to give it up if possible.

I've suggested asking for a sit down meeting with the guy who made the decision and explaining a few things. I hope he does that, but he lacks motivation a lot of the time, so it's possible he won't bother.
Any other suggestions?

#2 Coffeegirl

Posted 14 September 2019 - 08:47 AM

I can see from the employers view why they would let him go.  They have a business to run, and having to make allowances for every staff member to only work the shifts they choose would be a massive pain in the a*se.  
We have a large team of casual staff and the one who makes a fuss about availability (unless related to set school hours) is the one who gets rostered last.   We wouldn’t be very happy to have a staff member tell us we were his second choice and we had to work around his other job if we wanted him.   There are far too many others out there who are willing to do the job without the hassle.

how is his role usually re-contracted.  Is there a formal process that he has to go through?  The email might just be a form letter to everyone who’s contract is up for renewal as not everyone would reapply.  And if it was badly worded, it might sound like he’s been let go.

#3 gatheringpieces

Posted 14 September 2019 - 08:50 AM

That sounds complicated
And hard, I wouldn't want a staff member who is unavailable half the year either

I would request a sit down with the manager and just discuss it all.

Best of luck

#4 Grrrumbles

Posted 14 September 2019 - 08:57 AM

As a contractor it isn’t really a ‘job’ unfortunately and they don’t really need to give him a chance to negotiate and give their reasons for not renewing.

If he was hopeful for more work in the future I would focus on him leaving on good terms so that he could approach them in the future if a suitable opportunity comes up. He might even be able to apply for short term contracts if they need a backfill for a few weeks etc at a time that is suitable for him.

#5 SeaPrincess

Posted 14 September 2019 - 08:59 AM

Even though he prefers the job he’s had for longer, I would prioritise a job that gave me ongoing work year-round. As a manager, having an employee with less availability than normal when it is particularly needed would be extremely challenging. You said yourself he’s unlikely to get a new job that will accept that he’s unavailable for nearly half the year - they’ve been pretty accommodating to put up with it for this long.

It’s worth a chat, but he might need to consider giving up the other job to keep this one.

#6 eilca

Posted 14 September 2019 - 09:06 AM

OP, this year in my new role I am responsible for casual relief staff and as much as I understand why they have two or more jobs, I need to prioritise my site's staffing needs. This has meant a reduction in some contracts because of some people's reduced availability. But as he said, the priority is site needs, not individual requests that become too tricky to manage.

#7 StoneFoxArrow

Posted 14 September 2019 - 09:07 AM

View PostCoffeegirl, on 14 September 2019 - 08:47 AM, said:

I can see from the employers view why they would let him go.  They have a business to run, and having to make allowances for every staff member to only work the shifts they choose would be a massive pain in the a*se.  
We have a large team of casual staff and the one who makes a fuss about availability (unless related to set school hours) is the one who gets rostered last.   We wouldn’t be very happy to have a staff member tell us we were his second choice and we had to work around his other job if we wanted him.   There are far too many others out there who are willing to do the job without the hassle.

how is his role usually re-contracted.  Is there a formal process that he has to go through?  The email might just be a form letter to everyone who’s contract is up for renewal as not everyone would reapply.  And if it was badly worded, it might sound like he’s been let go.

No, it's very different from the other emails he's had. This is quite clear that his contract is not being renewed:

"Mr X - please fill in this leaving survey prior to your last day in the department"
and
"Dear Asset Manager, please ensure Mr X has no assets prior to his last day in the department (DD MMM)"

This department has hundreds of casuals, I'm sure he isn't the only one who has differing availability. Again, I understand the reasons, but surely you speak to someone first and give them an opportunity to talk it through before deciding to let them go?

The way the department is set up, there isn't really access to managers/HR, so if he was having mental health issues for example, that impacted his ability to work, they would have no idea. There's no performance assessment, or regular discussions. I know private can be different, but compared to other govt agencies I've worked in for nearly 10 years, it's run terribly.

View Postgatheringpieces, on 14 September 2019 - 08:50 AM, said:

That sounds complicated
And hard, I wouldn't want a staff member who is unavailable half the year either

I would request a sit down with the manager and just discuss it all.

Best of luck

But he's not unavailable half the year. He's available for at least 3 days every single week of the year. Just during those 20 or so weeks, he's only available 3 days, whereas the other weeks he's available 5+.

In other ways he's an excellent employee. In 10 years in his other job, he's had to "cancel" a shift due to being sick only once. He's never called in sick for this job. He's had plenty of shifts "non-existent" when he's turned up for work and been sent home.  

View PostGrrrumbles, on 14 September 2019 - 08:57 AM, said:

As a contractor it isn’t really a ‘job’ unfortunately and they don’t really need to give him a chance to negotiate and give their reasons for not renewing.

If he was hopeful for more work in the future I would focus on him leaving on good terms so that he could approach them in the future if a suitable opportunity comes up. He might even be able to apply for short term contracts if they need a backfill for a few weeks etc at a time that is suitable for him.

It's not set up like other contractor positions I know of. I also work in the APS and have employed contractors, this is set up differently. They employ 75% of their staff as "casuals" and go through a full recruitment process, with physicals etc. that last a few months. So, unfortunately it's not the kind of thing he can just apply for easily and walk into again.

View PostSeaPrincess, on 14 September 2019 - 08:59 AM, said:

It’s worth a chat, but he might need to consider giving up the other job to keep this one.

He would never give up the other job, he loves it. I agree that it some ways this job is better, but for him it's not that simple. He doesn't necessarily need a job that has work year round, although a bit more than 20 weeks a year would be nice.

#8 StoneFoxArrow

Posted 14 September 2019 - 09:09 AM

View Posteilca, on 14 September 2019 - 09:06 AM, said:

OP, this year in my new role I am responsible for casual relief staff and as much as I understand why they have two or more jobs, I need to prioritise my site's staffing needs. This has meant a reduction in some contracts because of some people's reduced availability. But as he said, the priority is site needs, not individual requests that become too tricky to manage.

It sounds like this is exactly the issue. I wish it wasn't the case though.

#9 eilca

Posted 14 September 2019 - 09:12 AM

View PostStoneFoxArrow, on 14 September 2019 - 09:09 AM, said:



It sounds like this is exactly the issue. I wish it wasn't the case though.

I do too.  But the need for consistency is paramount and it is actually a wellbeing issue for all stakeholders.

#10 IamtheMumma

Posted 14 September 2019 - 09:12 AM

It does sound like the manager has a hand in it. A family member of mine has two jobs. Job A let her renegotiate her hours so that she can do job B. They value her as an employee to keep her.

#11 StoneFoxArrow

Posted 14 September 2019 - 09:22 AM

View PostIamtheMumma, on 14 September 2019 - 09:12 AM, said:

It does sound like the manager has a hand in it. A family member of mine has two jobs. Job A let her renegotiate her hours so that she can do job B. They value her as an employee to keep her.

I don't think this department considers valuing employees as an option. As I said in an update, he's a great employee otherwise. Keeps his head down and does the work, goes to training when it's offered, stays back when they ask. It's not like he's taking the p**s or anything.

And given that they hired him because of his other job, it's a but unfair to now decide that it's not ok for him to have it.

EFS

Edited by StoneFoxArrow, 14 September 2019 - 09:22 AM.


#12 jayskette

Posted 14 September 2019 - 09:33 AM

Casual means being subject to sh*t like this unfortunately.

#13 Literary Lemur

Posted 14 September 2019 - 09:57 AM

I'd think it would be smart to find out why they are not renewing. If its based on his availability I would accept that with grace, not burn any bridges and leave the door open for work with them in the future. It sounds like a relatively small working community.

Edited by Literary Lemur, 14 September 2019 - 09:58 AM.


#14 Goldenash

Posted 14 September 2019 - 10:05 AM

I think it is definitely worth him having a conversation with them about why it is not being renewed.

I appreciate he likes his other role, but after ten years it doesn’t sound like it is going to become permanent and he may need to think about whether it is worth it.

#15 littlepickle

Posted 14 September 2019 - 10:10 AM

Until recently I had two jobs with the same parent  company - 1 was a permanent role 7 days a fortnight the other casual. Because I have not been available at job 2 for 6 months - they had very limited shifts available on my days off from primary job combined with me being unavailable for most of the late notice shifts. I actually suspected I had been removed from job 2 when I could no longer access a couple of computer programs : letter in the mail a week later. I had been with job 2 for 22 years... but that’s the nature of a casual contract

#16 lizzzard

Posted 14 September 2019 - 10:17 AM

The emails sound like standard ones. They can be pretty insensitivity worded!

Before jumping to conclusions I would definitely have a chat with the boss. Am I reading it right that they are new to the role? It’s possible (even likely) that they aren’t aware or automatically on the same page about your DPs arrangements. I would be inclined to approach them in respectful and open way to explain his situation and ask if it would be possible to continue. At the end of the day, it is obviously their decision but there is no harm in asking, and if he doesn’t he’s definitely out of the job!

#17 WannabeMasterchef

Posted 14 September 2019 - 11:14 AM

I have no advice, but I sympathise with him. The casualisation of the workforce to the current extent really sucks for employees in most cases.

#18 eilca

Posted 14 September 2019 - 11:33 AM

View PostIamtheMumma, on 14 September 2019 - 09:12 AM, said:

It does sound like the manager has a hand in it. A family member of mine has two jobs. Job A let her renegotiate her hours so that she can do job B. They value her as an employee to keep her.

This is very dependent on the industry. For example, I am in education and we are restricted to Monday to Friday, 8:30-3:00pm and required face to face staff.  We also require consistent face to face staff so that students with special needs have consistent faces, so week to week requests and negotiations are determined by student needs.

#19 But seriously

Posted 14 September 2019 - 12:07 PM

So he is happy with a job that is casual, 20 weeks a year, and has been casual for 10 years? Am I right?

Does it pay well?

#20 StoneFoxArrow

Posted 14 September 2019 - 02:12 PM

View Posteilca, on 14 September 2019 - 11:33 AM, said:


This is very dependent on the industry. For example, I am in education and we are restricted to Monday to Friday, 8:30-3:00pm and required face to face staff.  We also require consistent face to face staff so that students with special needs have consistent faces, so week to week requests and negotiations are determined by student needs.

They have staff there 24 hours, so shifts are a either overnight, afternoon, or daytime. So it's fairly dependent on staff that have different availability.

View Postlizzzard, on 14 September 2019 - 10:17 AM, said:

The emails sound like standard ones. They can be pretty insensitivity worded!

Before jumping to conclusions I would definitely have a chat with the boss. Am I reading it right that they are new to the role? It’s possible (even likely) that they aren’t aware or automatically on the same page about your DPs arrangements. I would be inclined to approach them in respectful and open way to explain his situation and ask if it would be possible to continue. At the end of the day, it is obviously their decision but there is no harm in asking, and if he doesn’t he’s definitely out of the job!

They're definitely not the standard emails, we've both seen those previously. They usually say "Mr x your contract requires renewal, please sign attached documents etc"

These ones say (among other things) stuff like

"Please find below a hyperlink to the separation clearance form which is to be completed by you and returned to Payroll, prior to your last day in the department. You can find information on Resignations, Retirements and Transfers on the intranet page"

But yes, definitely want him to speak to someone before it goes any further.

View PostBut seriously, on 14 September 2019 - 12:07 PM, said:

So he is happy with a job that is casual, 20 weeks a year, and has been casual for 10 years? Am I right?

Does it pay well?

Yes, that's correct. It pays well for what it is, but given its APS it's probably more then the equivalent non-public service position would pay.

#21 foxbread

Posted 14 September 2019 - 04:00 PM

I'd also clarify that it isn't a matter of some process changing. You say he's had to reapply every year? Maybe they're not specifically letting him go, so much as tying up previous 12 months' loose ends differently in preparation for the next round of recruitment. Which could be through a labour hire firm instead.... That would be my cynical hunch,  anyway.

#22 lizzzard

Posted 14 September 2019 - 04:24 PM

View PostStoneFoxArrow, on 14 September 2019 - 02:12 PM, said:



They're definitely not the standard emails, we've both seen those previously. They usually say "Mr x your contract requires renewal, please sign attached documents etc"

These ones say (among other things) stuff like

"Please find below a hyperlink to the separation clearance form which is to be completed by you and returned to Payroll, prior to your last day in the department. You can find information on Resignations, Retirements and Transfers on the intranet page"
Sorry, I just meant system generated, not the standard ones he’s received previously. Sounds like a different box has been ticked from before which has triggered a different set of actions and HR comms

#23 28 Barbary Lane

Posted 14 September 2019 - 04:27 PM

What foxbread said sounds like a definite possibility. I know our department has so many contractors now they now have agencies who supply the staff and do the recruiting, basically the department can just offload any issues and recruiting requirements to them. Got rid of a few more permanent roles that way as well.

Edited by 28 Barbary Lane, 14 September 2019 - 04:28 PM.


#24 StoneFoxArrow

Posted 14 September 2019 - 06:05 PM

View Postlizzzard, on 14 September 2019 - 04:24 PM, said:

Sorry, I just meant system generated, not the standard ones he’s received previously. Sounds like a different box has been ticked from before which has triggered a different set of actions and HR comms

Ah right, it's possible, but it seemed individualised and was from a specific person, down to the lovely "Please let me know if you have any questions about your upcoming departure". The way both emails were written really sounded as though he should have been told something in person prior to getting the emails. They were also cc'd to a bunch of other people, so it's not like they wouldn't be able to stop it if it was a mistake.

View Postfoxbread, on 14 September 2019 - 04:00 PM, said:

I'd also clarify that it isn't a matter of some process changing. You say he's had to reapply every year? Maybe they're not specifically letting him go, so much as tying up previous 12 months' loose ends differently in preparation for the next round of recruitment. Which could be through a labour hire firm instead.... That would be my cynical hunch,  anyway.

This sounds possible too, but DP has colleagues that he's close to working there too and has checked with them, one in particular started in the same "round" as him and hasn't heard anything like this.

It does seem unfortunately as though it's real.

Edited by StoneFoxArrow, 14 September 2019 - 06:05 PM.


#25 Cimbom

Posted 14 September 2019 - 06:33 PM

Casual arrangements put all the power in the hands of the employer. They don’t have to give the employee any shifts, they are not owed most benefits and there is no requirement of any kind of ongoing employment. They can essentially do what they like




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