National Jobs Protection Framework

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jobs protection framework


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring Message from the NTEU National Leadership

Message from the NTEU National Leadership

Message from the NTEU National Leadership 2

What is the National Jobs Protection Framework? 3 What the Framework does








In March this year, each State and Territory sent elected representatives to the NTEU National Executive to confront the wave of job losses in universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working through extremely difficult decisions, made worse by a Federal Government that refuses to provide JobKeeper to our sector, or replace the $5 billion ripped from the sector. There are no perfect options in this crisis. However, we have formulated a plan – the National Job Protection Framework – that asks members to consider temporary pay freeze or salary reductions to save jobs.



We believe up to 12,000 careers and livelihoods can be saved.



The National Job Protection Framework is founded on the following principles:



• We are stronger nationally than fighting campus by campus.





• Only the Union can act in the interests of every campus, in every town and region – from the smallest university to the Go8.



We have undertaken the following actions:



How it works


• The Union emailed every member and all staff on 16 March to outline our approach.

The Approval Process


Who gets to have a say?


• The Union has a responsibility to save jobs.

• The Union has negotiated a National Jobs Protection Framework with a group of Vice-Chancellors – a strong set of guard rails that will set what universities can and can’t do during this next phase.

You can read all about the Framework in this brochure, but in summary it: • Commits universities to saving jobs first. • Is time limited – it only lasts as long as this crisis. • Protects and enhances industrial rights.

National Jobs Protection Framework ©2020. All rights reserved.

We are sailing into stormy seas. The Jobs Protection Framework means everyone gets a lifejacket. Casuals, fixed term, permanent, low paid, high paid; everyone. This approach ensures that the strong look after the more vulnerable because that’s what a union does. Nobody should be left to just sink or swim. This is the real test of solidarity.

Published by National Tertiary Education Union. ISBN 978-0-9946377-8-9

All members will be given a say before any variation to Agreements is put in place. As a proud democratic union – the next step is yours.

Authorised by Matthew McGowan, NTEU General Secretary

The NTEU leadership commends this framework to you. All the information you need is in this brochure. Additional publications are available at

NTEU National Office, 120 Clarendon St, South Melbourne VIC 3205


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring What is the National Jobs Protection Framework?

What is the National Jobs Protection Framework? The National Jobs Protection Framework has been negotiated between NTEU and Vice-Chancellors to minimise job losses that would otherwise occur as a result of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the university sector. If agreed by university staff, the Framework would introduce a time-limited variation to working conditions that protects vulnerable employees by limiting the powers of university managements and maintaining a living wage for the very low paid. As part of the Framework – and only in instances where the university can prove it is saving jobs – employees may be asked to accept a strictly limited temporary pay freeze or salary reduction.


Casual staff, those in financial distress and the very low paid will have protections.

➊ The financial modelling of universities must be assessed by an independent panel (to which NTEU will provide half the experts) before any measures can be taken, but the job protection elements start immediately and cannot be removed. ➋ Implementation will be overseen by a local committee which will be half NTEU. ➌ Allows for quick and effective enforcement of your rights. ➍ All actions can be reversed if financial circumstances improve. ➎ The rest of the Enterprise Agreement (e.g. workload clauses and overtime) continue to apply. ➏ Everyone gets a say through a ballot. 3

We are sailing into stormy seas. The Jobs Protection Framework means everyone gets a lifejacket. Casuals, fixed term, permanent, low paid, high paid, everyone. This approach ensures the strong look after the more vulnerable, because that’s what a union does. Nobody should be left to just sink or swim. This is the real test of solidarity.

Image: Barth Bailey/Unsplash


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring What the Framework does

What the Framework does PROTECTS JOBS

Brings casuals back to work Casual work will stay with casuals. Where the work is still required to be done and a casual had a reasonable expectation of work, it will remain with the casual. This applies both to current and recently employed casuals.

Limits redundancies Compulsory redundancies are limited to stricter circumstances than the Fair Work Act and most Agreements, and there can be no forced redundancies as a cost saving measure. This Framework prevents the common situation of an employer abolishing a job to trigger a redundancy and the work remaining. Instead, redundancies will be specifically linked to the reduction of work, and in every case there needs to be no alternative work for them to do before they are forced out.

The only time that casual work is not protected is in the case of an ongoing staff member being substantially underemployed or under threat of redundancy.

Secures work for fixed-term staff Fixed-term work will stay with the staff that performed it. Where the work is still required to be done and a fixed-term staff member had a reasonable expectation of work, it will remain with the fixed-term employee. The only time that fixed-term work is not protected is in the case of an ongoing staff member being substantially underemployed or under threat of redundancy. This applies both to current and recently employed fixed-term staff.

Stops stand-downs without pay Many university staff are vulnerable to stand-down which occurs when work stops for a reason beyond the employer’s control and the employee can’t be usefully employed. Those staff whose work is dependent on being on campus, or in situations that have been stopped by public health measures, can legally be stood-down with no pay. This has happened to some staff in ELICOS centres and over 100 staff in a University Dental School were recently threatened with stand-down.

Prevents new external appointments Work will stay with existing university employees, including casual and fixed term staff. There will be no new external appointments except under exceptional circumstances such as where specialised expertise is not available amongst existing staff.

Normally during a stand-down the worker does no work and receives no pay for an indefinite period. Under this Framework there will be no stand-downs without pay. An employee in this situation will continue to receive between 30 and 50% of their pay indefinitely despite having no work. There is a floor of the JobKeeper amount ($1500 per fortnight) included for part-time and low paid employees to ensure that a basic living wage is maintained.

Quote-left Alex is a casual tutor. In second semester

they usually teach three lectures and take two tutorials for 12 weeks in POLS3201 – American Political Orthodoxies. Alex is the only tutor. Due to lower enrolments in second semester this year there is only one tute, but Alex must still be assigned the three lectures and the one tutorial as this work cannot be assigned to other staff, unless continuing staff are substantially under employed or under threat of redundancy or stand down.

Allows those who want to leave to go Those who want to leave will be allowed to go through voluntary separation processes prior to any redundancies. The university may call for volunteers to leave and if they do so will be obliged to allow all who apply to go, unless they are demonstrated to be essential staff. This protects jobs for those who want to stay.


Nothing in the Framework is permanent. The changes are time limited and, where circumstances change, universities may move between categories. This is to ensure that employees don’t contribute more than is needed to save jobs. Image: Pixabay


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring What the Framework does

TEMPORARY & LIMITED REDUCTIONS To help protect jobs, the NTEU has negotiated a temporary and limited capacity for changes that may impact on total pay. Most employees will retain at least 90-95% of their pay.

Defers salary increases Pay rises that were due to occur in the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021 may be deferred until the end of the Framework.

The Union has only agreed based on the following principles:

Temporary reduction in fractions

• The Vice-Chancellors and Executives have agreed to pay cuts more substantial than any other staff.

University management will be able to direct staff members to temporarily reduce their fraction of employment. The most that their fraction can be reduced is 10%, meaning a 9-day fortnight. The Framework will require that there is a commensurate reduction in days worked and workload and that no-one can be expected to work above that without compensation.

• The total impact of all measures combined cannot be more than 10% for any employee in most universities, and in the worst case scenario 15%. • A National Expert Panel ensures that any changes made are proportional to the financial impact of COVID-19 on the university. • Casuals are exempt, as are those in financial distress.

Temporary reduction in wages

Defers reclassification and promotion payrises

The hardest hit universities may have the option of a temporary general reduction in salaries. University managements may be able to temporarily reduce salaries by 5%, or in the worst case scenario 10%.

Reclassification and promotion processes will continue but in the event of a successful application the increase in pay may be deferred until the end of the Framework.

Where wages are reduced, the first $30,000 is exempt from reduction to protect the low paid. continued overpage...

Quote-left Sasha earns $60,000. They are directed

to work a 9-day fortnight and their workload is reduced by 10%. Their salary is reduced to $54,000, but they accrue leave and receive super as if they were employed full time. They cannot be asked to work on their day off without compensation. Sasha cannot have their salary further reduced by a temporary general pay cut as they have reached the 10% maximum individual impact already. At the end of the variation, Sasha will return to their full-time job at the full-time rate of pay.

Quote-left Pat is a HEW level 3 and earns $50,000. Pat’s

temporary reduction in wages would be 5% on $20,000 or $1000 in total if for a whole year. That is approximately $20 per week (before tax). Pat continues to receive their full superannuation contribution. At the end of the Framework Pat will return to their normal rate of pay.


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring What the Framework does Transfer to other duties

Leave direction

You may be temporarily transferred to other alternative duties where you are not fully employed. At the end of the Framework, if not before, you will return to your normal job and duties.

Employees may be directed to take annual leave or long service leave at an agreed time within 10 weeks of receiving a direction to do so. A balance of two weeks must be retained for annual leave and either 13 weeks or 9 weeks retained for long service leave.

Quote-left Stevie works in the office of the University

Quote-left Lee is a Level D and earns $150,000. Lee’s

Gym, there is not enough work for them during the shut-down but there is administration work to do in Student Services. The University can transfer Stevie to work in Student Services to avoid them being stood-down.

temporary reduction would be 5% on $120,000 or $6000 p/a. That equates to $120 per week. Lee continues to receive their full employer contribution of superannuation. At the end of the Framework they will return to their normal rate of pay.


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring What the Framework does

PROTECTS CASUALS & SESSIONALS We already know that when a crisis such as COVID-19 hits, it is the workers in insecure employment who are the first to go.

Casuals have same access to job pool Where there are vacancies, casuals will have the same access to jobs as every other staff member (except redeployees).

Academic sessionals carry the majority of teaching at most universities and yet many have had their employment reduced or terminated as the universities jumped to slashing Casual Budgets as their first response.

Casuals are exempt from temporary pay cuts Should any temporary reductions in pay occur, casuals will be exempt.

The National Jobs Protection Framework contains special support and protections for casual workers which will see many return to campus.

Paid COVID-19 leave Some universities have already agreed to paid COVID-19 leave for casuals, but not all. The Framework will give all casuals two weeks of paid leave if they need it for COVID-19 related illness, caring and support, or isolation.

Casual work stays with Casuals Where the work is still required to be done, and a casual or sessional staff member had a reasonable expectation of that work, they will get that work. This prevents the routine transfer of casual work to ongoing staff. This applies to existing and recent casuals, including any who have lost work due to COVID-19 and those who have an expectation of being employed later in the year. Where the work is reduced, existing and recent casuals will have first preference for the work. No new people can be employed to take the work.


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring What the Framework does



Provides enhanced support for those experiencing Domestic Violence

Maintains workload limits The workload and overtime provisions of the Agreement remain in force. Where there are disputes about the allocation of workload, these will continue to be pursued in the normal fashion.

Special support measures will be available for those suffering family, domestic and sexual violence such as additional leave and greater access to university childcare.

Maintaining strict enforcement of workload restrictions will be more important than ever to prevent work that is currently being undertaken by casuals from ‘disappearing’.

Provides extra support for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander staff

Allows employees to adjust working hours around family commitments

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are identified as a high risk category for COVID-19. This Framework requires the university to take special measures to protect them from risk.

The variation provides for workers to initiate family-friendly working arrangements. These agreements will need to be in writing to avoid any confusion and the employer will not be able to unreasonably refuse any requests for flexible hours.

The University also acknowledges the importance of maintaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander centres and programs, and the retention of Indigenous languages.

Allows employees to switch from full-time to part-time

Provides extra support for those in ‘at-risk’ categories

Workers who want to move to part-time arrangements to suit their personal circumstances will be able to do so. Provisions that apply to those staff who are directed to take a 9-day fortnight will apply, with superannuation paid on the full-time rate and leave accruing as if the worker was employed full time. Requests to go part-time will not be unreasonably refused.

Many people are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 than the general population, including those with high blood pressure and diabetes. The University will take special measures to protect them from risk including facilitating extended working from home arrangements where possible.

Includes special consideration for those in financial distress

Quote-left Sam is a Senior Lecturer who is told that

Where any action taken under this Framework may cause severe financial distress for the employee the University must consider exemption for that employee.

there is no budget for casuals and that they must perform the 320 hours of marking done last year by casual staff. This puts Sam above the workload limit in the Enterprise Agreement. The Union will lodge a dispute to ensure that Sam has a fair workload and casuals retain their work.


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring What the Framework does

PROTECTS CAREERS Preserves research allocations where research can still be performed



Provides paid COVID-19 leave for all staff, preserving your personal leave balances.

Supervisors will only be able to allocate alternative duties such as additional teaching where research is unable to be performed due to COVID-19, e.g. where there is no access to research sites.

Two weeks of paid leave is available to every employee who is infected, is caring for someone who has COVID-19 or who is required to isolate. This includes casual staff.

It will be dependent upon the University to demonstrate that the work is unable to be done and any individual will have the ability to dispute any re-allocation of duties through the local Covid Temporary Measures Committee, which has union representatives on it.

Entitlements continue to accrue Entitlements continue to accrue as normal regardless of any other changes. No employee loses any accrued entitlements in the long or short term. If you were full time and temporarily go to part-time your entitlements continue to accrue as if you were full time.

Adjusts research expectations where research is affected Where a staff member is genuinely unable to continue their research during the pandemic, the research expectations as they apply to that staff member must be lowered. This will continue to be considered after the pandemic has passed.

Maintains continuity of service Continuity of Service is maintained for everyone, regardless of any actions under this Framework, such as a break in service due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Allows reclassification and promotions to continue.

This is very important for casual and fixed term staff whose access to conversion to ongoing and other entitlements may be dependent on their length of service.

Recognition of employees will continue through reclassification and promotions. Where an application is successful the pay increase may be delayed until the end of the Framework.

Modifies probation expectations Where a probationary staff member’s performance is impacted by the disruption of the pandemic, the probation targets will be amended as necessary.

Limits performance evaluations to protect from impact of pandemic Some employees are finding that they can’t fully perform their duties due to things that are beyond their control. Where this occurs, it will not impact on any performance evaluation.


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring What the Framework does

PROTECTS RETIREMENT INCOMES Superannuation payments continue regardless of any other changes. Irrespective of what else happens under this Framework, as long as you keep a job, the University will continue to pay the full employer contribution as if there had been no change. This will protect both the employee’s service fraction and average salary. Members of the Defined Benefit Fund will need to maintain their own contribution, and if unable to do so will have two years to make their contribution up.


Establishes a National Expert Panel to assess all university claims of loss

Ensures universities will pay your out-of-pocket expenses due to working from home

A National Expert Panel, that has equal numbers of nominees from NTEU and the universities, assesses the financial and enrolment information of the university, confirms that the methods used to calculate and estimate loss are valid and consistent across the whole sector. The panel will employ an independent accountant to verify the figures. Half of the nominees to the panel will be nominated by NTEU.

Some universities have been refusing to pay employee costs associated with working from home. This Framework ensures that no staff member is out of pocket for reasonable workrelated expenses.

Requires senior management to take greater pay cuts than staff The burden of protecting jobs should not be with staff alone. For that reason the Vice-Chancellor and senior Executive will take larger cuts to remuneration that staff members.

Requires universities to use other sources of cash first The National Expert Panel is charged with determining whether there has been reasonable use of other sources of funds (including executive wage cuts, suspension of capital works and use of cash reserves and investment income) before determining that the University can have access to the measures available.

Ensures joint Union and management oversight of implementation The Framework establishes a local joint Union and management committee to oversee the implementation of all aspects of this Framework. It also gives the Union members of that committee access to contact staff to seek feedback on issues.

Ensures that any actions taken are proportional to the real financial pressure The design of the Framework builds in a level of proportionality by restricting the actions a university may take based on the level of financial pressure, and in addition the National Expert Panel must make an explicit assessment that actions proposed are reasonable.

Allows for quick & effective enforcement of your rights Any complaints or disputes that relate to the implementation of this agreement go to the local Union/management committee which can determine the outcome. If they are unable to agree the matter goes to rapid arbitration by an independent arbitrator.


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring What the Framework does

PROTECTS YOUR RIGHTS Preserves all other existing Enterprise Agreement rights All other existing rights and entitlements remain intact and cannot be changed by the employer.

Restores all changes at the end of the period At the end of the period everything returns as if there had been no change.


In order to stand together and protect jobs we all need to contribute towards a life-jacket for everyone.



How it works Uncategorised: those whose financial impact is low enough to not justify significant change.

Jobs Protection Framework Variation The Fair Work Act provides for Agreements to be varied when an employer makes an application. A variation to an existing Enterprise Agreement must be voted on by all employees to which the Agreement applies. If the majority of voters support the Variation, it is checked by the Fair Work Commission and then inserted into the Agreement, becoming an enforceable part of the Agreement. Employers do not need to negotiate a variation with the unions as they did the original Agreement.

Category A: high financial impact. Category B: severe financial impact. Categories A and B have access to different measures, but the protections for staff apply to all.

Nothing is permanent! The changes are time limited and where circumstances change, universities may move between categories.

The Jobs Protection Framework Variation is time-limited and will only operate until 30 June 2021 (with a possibility of a mutual agreement to extend by six months but only after a vote of NTEU members at that university).

For example, if the Government provides a funding boost, or enrolments are sufficiently greater than predicted, the Expert Panel can change a university from Category B or Category A or back to uncategorised.

Once the variation has expired ALL of the terms and conditions that would have naturally applied as at that date, including salary increases, will apply.

This is to ensure that employees don’t contribute more than is needed to save jobs.

Even though negotiations have agreed on a single common variation to be inserted into Enterprise Agreements, your existing Agreement remains in force. Any rights and entitlements not altered or affected by the variation, for example reclassification processes or Parental Leave, will continue to operate unaffected. And when the Variation ceases to operate all of your terms and conditions will revert to those that would have existed if the variation had never been inserted.

Who oversees it? The Variation is implemented at the national and local levels to ensure transparency and oversight. At the national level the financial circumstances of each university are assessed by a National Expert Panel (NEP) with nominees from NTEU and the universities. It will have access to verified real-time financial and enrolment data and will employ an independent accountant to verify the reports from the university and ensure the methodology is consistent. The University must satisfy the NEP the cost saving measures proposed by the University are proportional to the financial impact and necessary to avoid or minimise job reductions and redundancies.

The employer will circulate the variation, with the required explanatory note outlining the effects of the variation, to all workers with 7 days to review it before a vote is taken of all staff.

Categorising the universities All universities have been impacted by COVID-19, some more or less than others. The Jobs Protection Framework takes this into account by limiting the actions available to employers to those that are proportional to the level of financial damage from COVID-19. Each university is categorised by an expert panel into three groups using two financial measures (one based on revenue loss and one based on operating cash flow margins).

At a local level implementation is by a Covid Temporary Measures Committee (CTMC), made up of university and NTEU representatives. The CTMC will be provided with the relevant local information required to implement any of the measures required. They will have a roll in determining the parameters for any change management processes required and will hear any disputes about the implementation.



The Approval Process NTEU is a highly democratic organisation with elected representatives at every level. The NTEU National Executive has endorsed this package to go for consideration of the NTEU National Council which is made up of people elected to represent the interest of members at every Branch.

Should National Councillors endorse the package, there will then be a national electronic ballot of all members to see whether the entire membership supports the Framework. If approved overall in this national membership ballot, the results will be broken down university-by-university.

Image: Lukas Juhas/Unsplash


NATIONAL JOBS PROTECTION FRAMEWORK Life-ring Who gets to have a say?










Image: Akira Hojo/Unsplash

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