Fixed term Contracts – new rules from 6 December, 2023

Did you know new rules for Fixed Term Contracts come into effect 6 December, 2023 (Australia)?

The new obligations include …. fixed term contracts not being longer than 2 years, including extensions and renewals; no longer having the option to extend or renew the contract making it longer than 2 years or extend or renew a contract more than once; and an employer can’t employ someone on a new fixed term contract if the contract is mainly the same work as a previous fixed term contract or there isn’t a substantial break between new and previous contracts.

For contracts entered into before 6 December 2023 the limitations do not apply, but will need to be considered if entering into an extension or new fixed term on or after 6 December, 2023.

What impact for the sport sector?

It’s not surprising high performance jobs and many executive and support staff in state and national sporting bodies are engaged on rolling 3-4 year contracts, in synch with major event and funding cycles.

There are exemptions within the new rules which may well apply to the sport sector, depending on the individual circumstances of the employer and employee. This includes where the contract to work requires a specialised skill (think … coaching, technical and HP personnel); High income earners (defined as over $167,000 from 1 July, 2023); Training arrangements, such as apprentices, as well as work that is funded by the government (completely or partially) for more than 2 years and where funding is unlikely to be renewed afterwards.

Employees covered under an Award are also exempt if the Award allows for different fixed term contract options. For those operating under The Sporting Organisations Award (2020) it does not appear to mention fixed term contracts specifically and defines types of employment only as FT, PT or casual.

Employers need to be mindful of these new limitations when offering employment beyond 6 December, 2023 particularly if considering linking the employment term to grants, major events or funding cycles. If a contract does not meet these new rules the contract’s end date will not apply. Employers are also required to provide new employees entering into a fixed-tern contract a new Fixed Term Contract Information Statement.

Said it before and I’ll say it again…. It’s a real shame there is no unified, central, national voice to the Federal Government on behalf of the sport sector. These new limitations have been developed with employee best interests in mind, but don’t take into account the challenges faced by the sport sector when balancing staffing quotas and employment with funding cycles.

More information on these limitations can be found here – Snapshot and Full Details

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