COVID-19 Jobs Protection Framework

The COVID-19 Jobs Protection Framework enabled a University to propose a variation of its enterprise agreement/agreements (EA) to staff to introduce significant cost saving measures for the period through to 30 June 2021 (or potentially longer) with the support of the National Tertiary Education Industry Union (NTEU). Those measures then became available to the University if its proposed EA variation was approved by staff and the Fair Work Commission (FWC). The intention was for Universities to be able to put a proposed EA Variation to a vote of staff from early/mid June, aiming for expedited FWC approval within the following 2-3 weeks. A set of Q&As was put together addressing process and related issues.

Each university was able to determine if it wanted to utilise the measures made available by this framework.

The measures available to a University depended on whether the Expert Assessment Panel (EAP) determined that the University’s financial situation met the criteria for Category A or Category B. The EAP decision was made prior to the proposed EA Variation being put to a vote of staff by the University. The measures able to be utilised by a University as a Category A or Category B University were entirely at the discretion of the University. The University could use some or all of those available measures as it chose to meet its particular circumstances.

Other key features of the framework are as follows:

  1. The University could direct employees to temporarily undertake different duties within their skill-level and competency. Academic staff could be allocated alternative work (including additional teaching work) in order to make up a full workload allocation, and this could be re-arranged across a whole year.
  2. Allocation of work provisions also gave first priority to continuing and fixed-term employees where there was no work or insufficient work available to them. This took precedence over general workload allocation protections for casual and other fixed-term employees who had a reasonable expectation of being provided with further work.
  3. If there was a need to stand down employees who could not be usefully employed due to a work stoppage, those employees would retain a payment during the stand down period and could be allocated work during that time.
  4. A university-level COVID-19 Temporary Measures Committee (CTMC) would act as an internal 5 working day dispute-settling mechanism for any disputes in relation to implementation of the EAV Schedule. Unresolved disputes would be referred to an Arbitrator for rapid arbitration within a further 5 working days. This arbitration process replaced external dispute resolution by the FWC, which could take many months to complete.
  5. The University could implement restructuring and redundancies in accordance with the terms of the EAV Schedule.
  6. All restructuring/change management processes would be governed by the EAV Schedule rather than the terms of the current EA. The proposed timeline and process for staff consultation outlined in University major change proposals would be considered by the CTMC within 5 working days, and would be referred to the Arbitrator for rapid arbitration if not agreed.

The EAV Schedule template was finalised on 2 June 2020. A document explaining the EAV Schedule was also created.

Workings of the National Expert Assessment Panel Download
University of Tasmania Report (revised), 10 July 2020 Download
La Trobe University Report, 2 July 2020 Download
Monash University Report, 2 July 2020 Download
The University of Western Australia Report, 7 July 2020 Download
University of Adelaide Report, 17 July 2020 Download
Queensland University of Technology Report, 23 July 2020 Download
University EA Variation update as at 19 August 2020 Download