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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Perth, WA

    Default Permanent to Fixed Term Contract & Probationary Period

    Hi There,

    I have been at my current job for 11 months now and my manager has just come and spoken to me about arranging a meeting as my 12 months is almost up on my contract. The only issue is that my contract does not state that it is fixed term nor does it have an end date.
    I think this was a mistake by the previous HR lady but the fact is that the contract doesn't state that it's fixed term and management did sign it as is.

    Are they now able to change it to a fixed term for another 12 months? or do they have to just continue with it as perm?

    Another question is just regarding probation periods. Mine was due/ up in October of last year. AT the time I was covering about 3 different roles and had not had any negative feedback regarding my work, only positive. I had emailed management several times about the probation meeting but never received an acknowledgement or response to my emails. HR at the time also tried to set up meetings but these were ignored / cancelled by the manager.

    (HR do not sit in on any of the contract / probation periods here, they are just done by the manager as the HR role is HR / Accounts and management only really get HR to do the accounts part and the occasional recruitment and contract)

    Nothing was said about my probation after that and I only received positive comments on my work. Then in December after having a day off ill I was advised at 9am the next morning that I was having my probation meeting at 11am that day. I wasn't given any performance paperwork to fill out (as one usually does in the reviews) and in the meeting was told my probation was being extended 3 months from October until January as I didn't communicate well enough that I was going to be away (I called the reception line at work and advised a manager but apparently I had to advise 2 managers and hadn't been told this).

    Were they able to extend my probation 2 months after the fact like that with no actual comment on my work? They gave me the extension letter but never had me sign it.

    January came and went and honestly I just gave up on following up on the probation as I pretty much knew it would be ignored again because I was excelling at my work and my manager didn't have any reason to pull me up on anything like back in October.

    Sorry for all the text and thank you for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Melbourne, Australia


    It sounds like your employer has some shortcomings in their hiring and performance management procedures.

    The probation period was clearly handled somewhat incompetently by your employer. A Probationary period can usually be extended, but not after the probation period has ended. You should be given formal notice that your probation is to be extended, and ideally why, before the initial probation period ends. However that seems to be a moot point give that your employment continued anyway.

    Before we start looking at the possible consequences of mistakes with your contract, what is the purpose of the meeting that your manager has asked for? Is there some possibility of you continuing in the job?

    If there is, then it may not be wise to raise the issues with your contract at this point in time.

    If however the meeting is for a "handover" because you are finishing up, then I would ask you the following questions;

    1. When you accepted the position were you under the impression that you were being employed on a fixed term contract which would end after 12 months?
    2. Do you know why they were employing someone on a fixed term contract?
    3. Have you been paid for leave and public holidays? (or have you been paid an all inclusive hourly or daily rate only for days worked?)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Perth, WA


    Hi Moz,

    Thanks for the reply.

    The hiring / performance management process seems to have been done correctly for all other staff except myself. All other staff members had their reviews on time and received proper evaluations and pay reviews on their performance. They also all have monthly supervision / catch ups with their managers. I just seem to have been either forgotten or purposely ignored (feels a bit this way as I do send requests for the reviews but never receive a response).

    As far as I was aware my employment was continuing as my contract did not have a fixed term or an end date, meaning unless they decided to fire me that I would continue on.

    I believe she has asked for the meeting as they've realised / had to report on the fact that I've had no supervision / management in the past 11 months when I should have been due to the new HR system being implemented and all the data being transferred over. That and perhaps that she has been told by the Business Manager that she needs to do a review to extend my contract or not (despite the fact the Business manager signed off on my contract with no end date).

    I should mention sorry that the manager doing this supervision / review is not the manager that has been ignoring my review requests for the past year. I work in a role split between 2 managers but the Business Manager as head of admin is the one that is meant to do my reviews etc. She seems to be fine with doing the reviews for all other staff members but has just kind of ignored my requests for them (when my original review was due in Oct I sent several emails to her and HR and never got a reply from her).

    She also seems to either forget or ignore that I am part of her team and tends to leave me out of admin emails and whilst I'm meant to work partly as her PA I receive no work from her / very little contact unless she has decided that I'm covering someones leave and need to change my normal work hours by an hour or so.
    (this kind of bugs me as I don't get any notice / warning about it despite having a few months notice of the persons leave and I don't get any say even though it completely messes up my commute which is an hour long on my normal start / end times but becomes like 1.5-2 hours when they tell me to work later and I have to drive in peak hour).

    In response to your questions..

    1. No, the contract stated no end date and as I was part of the office / admin team (not the therapists who are all on contracts) I was under the impression that it was a permanent contract, otherwise it would have stated so (I used to work in recruitment admin and it was a massive part of our job to ensure only the correct contract went out to candidates and that the signing manager had to review it as well to be sure, so to me, it was signed by the manager and therefor correct as written). That and the fact that no one has mentioned anything about my contract having an end date at any point in the past 11 months.

    2. They seem to employ a fair amount of staff on fixed term contracts as the business is mostly grant funded and if an area loses funding then it may not continue and I think it makes it easy for them to let people go without any strong reasoning / misconduct etc.

    3. I have been paid leave and public holidays as per a normal full time contract.
    Last edited by Vickyanne; 23-06-2015 at 10:24 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Melbourne, Australia


    If you were genuinely under the impression that you had been employed on a permanent, on-going basis, and that's what your contract says, then that is how you have been employed and that's that.

    If someone is employed on this basis, you can't just terminate them willy nilly. If your performance was consistently poor and you had gone through a performance management process without any improvement then you could be terminated. But it sounds like this is not the situation.

    To be frank though, I would be concerned about your relationship (or lack of) with the Business Manager, because I don't think it bodes well for your future.

    Her behaviour towards you is very unwise on her part. Nowadays, repeatedly leaving someone out of group/team emails and for all intents and purposes ignoring them, can be construed as bullying and/or adverse action (what used to be called constructive dismissal - you ignore someone and treat them differently to everyone else and hope that they will leave).

    I think you need to see how this meeting pans out before deciding what to say, although at some stage the tenure of your employment needs to be discussed. If there is any more reference to a 12 month term it may be wise to point out that your employment contract contains no reference to a fixed term and that you were under the impression that you were employed on a full time, on-going basis (aka - a “permanent” employee).

    I think you also need to think about whether you want to stay there. Given the long commute and a workplace atmosphere that is presumably a little unpleasant, maybe you would be better off somewhere else. However, I wouldn't leave until you secure another job.

    If things go badly and they terminate your employment at 12 months, from what you have said, you would be eligible to claim unfair dismissal. I hope it doesn’t come to this, but if it does, you must lodge the claim within 21 days.

    If in doubt you can take an online-eligibility test here

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Perth, WA


    I have actually just come out of a supervision meeting with my other manager and it went quite well. I have a pretty good relationship with this manager as I am her PA and work with her closely.

    She is very pleased with my work, increased my position level by an increment and set up a proper performance schedule with me and I now have the paperwork to complete a proper 12 month appraisal.
    This isn't the Business Manager though, but she will be asked to participate in the performance appraisal on 2 competency areas selected by myself so I am interested in seeing how that goes. I selected areas that I feel may highlight her lack of contact / work with me in the hopes that maybe it isn't intentional and can be rectified. I did make sure to mention to my other manager that I found it difficult selecting the areas for her to review as she has had such little interaction with me.
    I was also able to select 2 other staff members to participate in this which I believe is a good process as I work across several areas and offices and think this will demonstrate my work ethic and ability well.

    In regards to the BM's behaviour towards me, it has very much felt a bit like intentional exclusion / bullying specifically directed at me (I have at times been criticised for actions that other staff members do repeatedly (my first time doing the action due to having not been properly advised) whilst they continue to repeat the actions with no comment. I do kind of feel like she has been aiming for constructive dismissal but hope it is not the case as I have been close to leaving at times due to her actions and comments.

    The workplace atmosphere is lovely though aside from the 1 manager, it is just unfortunate that I have to report to her and I may actually look to get this altered. I think I would be happy to move to a fixed term contract if it meant I could alter it to report to my secondary manager instead, who is now the one doing all my appraisals anyway.

    Thank you so much for you comments and advice, they have been beyond helpful in this situation.
    I was very concerned that I was perhaps looking too much into this managers behaviour and perhaps it was normal / adequate in smaller businesses (all my previous roles have been in larger corporations which had have proper HR teams and very strict policies to adhere to).

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