Fair Work Changes to Fixed-Term Contracts Across Australia

Welcome to the latest insights from Recruitment Central, where we stay at the forefront of employment regulations to keep you updated and ahead of the game. 

We unravel the recent changes in the Fixed Term Contracts Rule in Australia, brought about by the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022, effective from December 6, 2023.

Understanding the New Landscape

The amendments introduce specific limitations on fixed-term contracts, emphasising job security and improved pay conditions:

  • Time Limitation: Fixed-term Contracts, including extensions, cannot exceed a duration of 2 years.
  • Renewal Limitations: Contracts can only be extended or renewed once, preventing circumvention of the 2-year limit.
  • Consecutive Contract Limitations: Employers are restricted from employing someone on a new fixed-term contract for the same work without a substantial break in employment.

Exceptions to the Rules

While these limitations provide a stringent framework, exceptions accommodate specific scenarios:

  • Specialised Skills: Contracts requiring specialised skills are exempt from time and renewal limitations.
  • Training Arrangements: Contracts related to training programs under state or territory laws are not subject to limitations.
  • Essential Work: Contracts for essential work during peak demand periods are permitted.
  • Emergency Circumstances or Temporary Absences: Contracts for temporary replacement of an employee or in emergency situations are exempt.
  • High-Income Employees: Contracts for high-income earners exceeding the defined threshold are not subject to limitations.
  • Government-Funded Contracts: Contracts funded by the government that extend beyond 2 years are exempt.
  • Governance Positions: Contracts for governance positions with limited terms are not subject to limitations.
  • Award Provisions: Contracts covered by awards allowing for different fixed-term contract options are exempt.

Implications for Employers and Employees

These new rules mark a pivotal shift, aiming to protect employees from job insecurity and promote workplace stability. Employers must adapt practices to comply with the regulations, and employees should be aware of their rights.

Benefits for Employers

  • Enhanced Certainty and Predictability: The two-year maximum duration of Fixed-Term Contracts (FTCs), coupled with restrictions on renewals and extensions, provides employers with heightened certainty in workforce planning and cost management. This empowers businesses to make well-informed decisions regarding staffing needs, allowing for efficient resource allocation.
  • Effective Candidate Assessment: FTCs provide employers with a valuable opportunity to evaluate potential hires before making permanent commitments. This trial period allows for a thorough assessment of candidates, including their skills, cultural compatibility, and work ethic. As a result, employers can select a workforce that is well-matched and highly productive.
  • Adaptability to Fluctuating Needs: The flexibility of  FTCs allows employers to easily adjust their workforce to meet changing demands, with particular support for industries with seasonal or project-based needs. This adaptability enables businesses to efficiently scale their workforce up or down as necessary, ensuring smooth operations and cost efficiency.

Benefits for Employees

  • Increased Job Security and Stability: The updated FTC regulations offer employees heightened job security and stability compared to previous arrangements. With a two-year maximum duration, individuals benefit from a more extended period of employment, providing a foundation for effective career and financial planning.
  • Gaining Valuable Experience: FTCs afford employees opportunities to acquire valuable experience across various roles and industries. Exposure to diverse work environments and skill sets enhances employability, opening doors to future career opportunities.
  • Flexibility to Explore Career Paths: FTCs grant employees the flexibility to explore different career paths without committing to long-term obligations. This empowers individuals to delve into their interests and aspirations, making informed decisions about their professional trajectory.

Recruitment Central: Your Partner in Recruitment

The recent changes to the Fixed Term Contracts Rule in Australia, as outlined by the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022, significantly impact both employers and employees. 

These amendments, while introducing stringent limitations, also provide exceptions catering to specific scenarios. For employers, the benefits include enhanced certainty and predictability, an effective trial period for candidate assessment, and the flexibility to adapt to fluctuating workforce needs. 

Employees, on the other hand, enjoy increased job security, opportunities for valuable experience across diverse roles, and the flexibility to explore various career paths. 

As we navigate this evolving landscape together, stay ahead of the curve with Recruitment Central. Follow us for more industry insights, ensuring you’re always informed and positioned for success in the dynamic world of employment regulations.


Looking for further inspiration?

We have lots of resources to help with your recruiting process.