Frequently Asked Questions

Outlined below are some frequently asked questions on topics related to Enterprise Bargaining and Industrial Relations. Click the + sign to read the answer to each question. If you cannot find the answer to your query, please use the feedback forms on this website.

Murdoch University has made Undertakings to our people to maintain take home pay and key benefits for six months after the termination of the former Enterprise Agreement in order to provide certainty while negotiations continue.  

You can also download the clauses covered by these Undertakings and see previous FAQs and answers at the bottom of this page. 

+ Why is the University seeking to move some processes to policy?

To secure the University’s ability to better respond to the external challenges we face, we need fair and balanced procedures and processes that reflect our operational reality, reduce our administrative burden and enable operational efficiency. Reducing our administrative burden will allow us to give greater focus to value-add operations.

We believe many prescriptive and complicated processes covered by clauses in the terminated enterprise agreement can be fairly managed within the University’s suite of policies, guidelines and procedures. In many cases, this will remove unnecessary duplication, as policies are already operating and protections are in place within existing legislation.

+ We all know policies can be changed at any time – how will staff be protected from future changes that might affect them?

In line with the University’s core values of integrity, respect and acting with purpose, we are committed to transparency in our policy development and amendment. Our values also underpin our commitment to fair and due process. The University will seek your feedback before changes to policies occur.

+ What is the University’s approach to dispute resolution?

We are proposing to simplify the Dispute Settlement Procedure clause to enable efficient and effective resolution of disputes, without unnecessary steps that prolong and complicate resolution. Staff can continue to raise disputes about matters relating to the Enterprise Agreement or the National Employment Standards and be represented by a person of their choosing which can include a union during the period of the dispute. A difference in the new clause is the union cannot raise a dispute in its own right, however can represent employees where asked by the impacted employee.

+ Why has the University changed its proposals relating to misconduct and unsatisfactory performance?

In the very rare circumstances of misconduct or unsatisfactory performance that give rise to potential disciplinary action or termination of employment, we previously proposed to deal with this in University policy. As a result of your feedback, we are now proposing that simplified provisions to address misconduct and unsatisfactory performance are now included within the Enterprise Agreement itself, and not purely within the University’s policy framework. This is a significant change from our previous position, but a direct response to what staff told us. You can read more detail here.

+ Is the University trying to alter change management processes ahead of a broader process that will see redundancies and cuts to staff?

Our ability to manage change in a timely and effective manner is crucial to the future success and strength of our University and to provide certainty for staff.

Our current change management processes are too broad, take too long and create unnecessary stress for our staff – we need to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to the changes around us, in order to meet challenges and capture opportunities.

We will continue to consult our staff on change, but the new processes will mean this is done in a practical, sensible and less stressful way. Employees still have an opportunity to be consulted about decisions and can raise any matters, but Murdoch wants to be able to present a concrete change for them to consider. Employees can still lodge a dispute if they don't agree with the decision or have a better proposal to put forward.

Other Universities have undergone organisational restructures, which have involved changes to staff numbers. These were made based on the individual circumstances of those institutions, and on the pressures we are all facing in the tertiary education sector. While we cannot rule out future changes to staff numbers at Murdoch, we can guarantee staff will be consulted and informed if this should eventuate, and fair processes will be followed.

+ What will the changes mean for fixed-term contract staff?

The new Agreement proposes simplifying categories for fixed-term contracts and a new category of maximum-term contracts, which will provide greater certainty for staff who otherwise might have had multiple, fixed-term contracts or casual employment.

Automatic conversion to permanency after two years of fixed-term employment does not align with modern working practices and going forward this option will be managed on a case-by-case basis.

+ Will casual academic staff be worse off under the proposed Enterprise Agreement?

In addition to an increase in hourly rates in line with our proposed salary increase, we are continuing to recognise the needs of casual academic staff by maintaining the following key workplace entitlements for them within our proposed agreement:

• a minimum of 3 hours payment for attendance at induction sessions required by the University • payment for meetings where attendance is required by a casual employee’s supervisor • access to staff development opportunities (including courses in business communication skills, IT skills, project management training and health and wellness)

Casual academic staff will also continue to have reasonable access to University facilities for the purposes of preparation, marking and student consultation (such facilities may include a workstation, telephone, networked computer and email access).

+ Why has the University changed its proposals relating to academic workloads?

A number of academic staff expressed concerns about the proposal to remove the 75% teaching cap. In response to your concerns, we are not removing the cap on teaching entirely. We’re instead proposing to clarify in the Enterprise Agreement that each academic staff member will have a minimum allocation of 10% of their workload for research, leadership, administration and/or service. This recognises that academic staff contribute to the life of the University in a range of ways beyond teaching. We also listened to your feedback about notice for workload allocation and can confirm that academic staff will be notified of their forecasted teaching workloads as soon as practical, but no later than 30 days before the start of each teaching period by the School Dean or their nominee. As a University, we remain committed to fair workload allocations for our academic staff in line with the best contribution that each person can make to their School and/or University objectives. These changes will help us to achieve this. You can read more detail here.

+ Will changes to the cap on teaching dilute the quality of research at Murdoch?

Absolutely not. The University remains committed to research excellence in areas of focus and it’s important that we continue to build on our research achievements.

+ How are you introducing more flexibility in how staff can access leave?

Our preference is for everyone to take four weeks of leave each year. This is important not only for each staff member’s health and wellbeing, but also for the University’s ability to effectively manage our human and financial resources. However, we recognise that people’s needs and preferences are different – so we’ve introduced more flexibility into the way leave entitlements can be used, to provide staff with the choice to suit their individual circumstances and operational requirements. For example, we have provided the option to take the time off or cash out leave, or to potentially take up to eight weeks leave at half pay. If you have accrued more than 4 weeks leave, you will be able to cash out some of that leave above the four-week amount. Because it’s important that people do actually take leave, you won’t be able to cash out all your leave to reduce your leave balance to zero (you must retain a minimum balance of 150 hours).

+ Why does the University want to be able to direct some staff to take annual leave?

For those staff who have accrued excess annual leave, the proposed Agreement will allow the University to direct staff to take some of that leave.

There are some staff who have accumulated large amounts of annual leave (in some cases in excess of 6 months) and this results in the University carrying a large annual leave liability. These provisions are comparable to those that already exist in many enterprise agreements across Australia.

+ Why does the University want to be able to direct some staff to take long service leave?

Our preference is for everyone who has accrued long service leave to make plans to take it at a time that suits them and the University, but within a reasonable time of becoming eligible to do so. There are some staff who have accumulated large amounts of long service leave (in some cases in excess of 7 months) and this results in the University carrying a large leave liability. These provisions are comparable to those that already exist in many Enterprise Agreements across Australia.

+ How does the proposed Agreement change the management of TOIL (time off in lieu)?

The University and a professional employee may agree to time off in lieu (TOIL) instead of payment for overtime. This TOIL is required to be cleared within two months of accrual, to assist the University to best manage staff and resources and to ensure employees have adequate rest periods.

+ Why has the University increased the span of hours (from 6.00am to 8.30pm)?

This proposal recognises the University does not operate strictly within standard business hours, as is the case with most universities. The change means the University can better manage circumstances in which it may need to roster some staff to start work earlier or finish later.

+ What is the feedback from staff so far? How is this being used in the bargaining process?

More than 1000 people have now visited the Our Future Matters website to learn more about the University’s recently proposed Enterprise Agreement and almost 900 have checked our Salary offer and used the salary calculator. Many people have shared their views about our proposals and this feedback has been valuable to inform our position as we proceed with negotiations. The issues you have told us matter most to you are salary, leave entitlements, superannuation and redundancy provisions. More than 72% of people have told us they would like a new Enterprise Agreement resolved by the end of this year.

+ What are the redundancy provisions?

In the event of redundancy, the proposed Agreement maintains the generous total payments of up to 82 weeks for existing academic staff and up to 89 weeks for existing professional staff. New professional staff will receive total payments of up to 52 weeks and new academic staff, up to 68 weeks.

The redundancy process is now the same for both academic and professional employees.

Before redundancies are enacted the University will be required to consult about any major workplace change in accordance with the consultation provisions. The University has options to enact voluntary or involuntary redundancies and must consider redeployment and retraining options first.

Where redundancies do occur, the University must provide each employee with written notice. Generous notice and severance pay in the event of a redundancy situation is provided within provisions of the proposed Agreement.

+ How does the University’s proposed Enterprise Agreement support the new Strategic Plan 2017-2027?

A simple and modern Enterprise Agreement is central to our goal of becoming a world-leading, world-changing university. It underpins our ability to deliver on our new strategic plan, whilst protecting core values and entitlements for staff.

It will also provide a sound operational footing so the University can build a workforce equipped to better respond to the ever changing challenges of the higher education landscape and to new opportunities as they arise.

+ How does the Limited Service Period Work?

The Limited Service period works very similarly as it does today. The 2014 Enterprise Agreement provided for the University to observe an annual Christmas Close down of up to 2 weeks each year. The new proposed Agreement allows for a Christmas and / or Easter limited service period for only 2 weeks in total over both periods.

During this time employees need to utilise annual leave and the additional public holidays accrued (up to 5 days), and the actual public holidays which fall during this time. Employee’s will only need to use accrued annual leave for any period not covered by the additional accrued public holidays and actual public holidays during the limited service period.

+ What is Murdoch’s salary offer?

We are offering staff covered by a new enterprise agreement as competitive a pay increase as our financial capacity allows. The following pay increases are proposed, subject to reaching agreement on terms which support our long-term financial sustainability, and provide us the flexibility to meet the challenges of today and opportunities of tomorrow:

• A $1000 increase to annual base salary from 1 January 2018 • An increase of 1.0% to annual base salary from 1 January 2019 • A $1500 increase to annual base salary effective from 1 January 2020 • An increase of 2.0 % to annual base salary effective from 1 January 2021.

Your salary could further increase with the addition of ongoing annual salary step progressions over the next 4 years. To see what the offer will mean for you, please visit the salary calculator on the Our Future Matters website.

Staff at lower classifications will receive the highest relative salary increase, which we consider is only fair.

Casual staff rates will be increased in line with the salary offer.

+ Why has Murdoch put forward a revised salary offer at this time?

This salary offer is to provide financial certainty for our people in the protracted enterprise bargaining negotiations that have now been going for 17 months.

The offer is as competitive as our financial capacity allows and we present it now, recognising salary is a key staff concern. Our aim is to reach agreement with the Union and our people before the end of the year, so that staff at Murdoch can have certainty.

Murdoch operates in a very competitive local market. We need to be able to both attract and retain talented people, so it is important we continue to offer salaries that are as competitive as our financial capacity allows.

There has been a lot of misinformation about the impact of the Fair Work Commission’s decision to terminate the former Enterprise Agreement.

A repeated claim by the NTEU is that the decision could open the way for staff to have their pay cut by up to 39%. We recognise this claim causes our staff unnecessary anxiety.

+ Does this new offer apply to all employees who are covered by a new enterprise agreement, including casual staff?

Yes, this offer will apply to staff who are covered by the enterprise agreement, with casual staff rates also adjusted in line with the salary offer.

+ Is this an increase compared to your opening salary offer during bargaining?

Yes. We have offered what we can afford. Our initial offer was 3% over three years. This current offer equates to an increase of between 4.5% - 8.7%.

+ What is the Union’s salary position?

Both Murdoch and the National Tertiary Education Union have updated their positions since bargaining commenced in May last year.

The Union initially proposed salary rates of all staff covered by the enterprise agreement be increased by 15% by October 2020. This offer was then revised by the NTEU in April 2017 to a 6.5% increase over four years.

+ Why are you offering more now?

We have always said that we need a timely outcome to bargaining negotiations and have offered what we can afford to reach agreement.
We are also aware of misinformation about the potential for pay cuts and we want to assure staff we have no intention of reducing their take-home pay.

All we have ever offered is salary increases during the bargaining process. This offer confirms that. We are striving to reach an agreement that sees take-home pay continue to increase, as we strengthen our position through challenging times.

+ Will you reduce your salary offer if you don’t reach agreement with the Union?

The salary offer remains if we reach agreement with our staff and the NTEU on terms which support our long-term financial sustainability, and provide us the flexibility to meet the challenges of today and opportunities of tomorrow.

+ What will this mean for me?

We have created an interactive salary calculator at Our Future Matters so staff can see how our updated salary offer would benefit them personally.

+ What will this mean for the University?

A simple and modern Enterprise Agreement is central to our goal of becoming a world-leading, world-changing university. It underpins our ability to deliver on our new strategic plan, whilst protecting core values and entitlements for staff.

It will also provide a sound operational footing so the University can better respond to the external challenges that we face and give us the agility to respond to new opportunities as they arise.

+ What happens now?

In the coming weeks, we will be seeking to engage with the NTEU to work through what the University proposes to include in the new agreement, to discuss the detail of particular provisions, and to consider and respond to issues raised in bargaining.

We will also be holding further sessions around the University to engage with all staff and provide the opportunity for your questions and feedback.

We remain committed to a timely outcome to discussions and to securing a new Enterprise Agreement that’s right our University, now and in the future.

+ Where has the money come from to make this offer?

The latest salary offer has been carefully calculated to be as competitive as our financial capacity allows. We recognise this is an important step towards securing a simple and modern Agreement that will enable our strategic plans to strengthen Murdoch’s future financial position and world-class standing.

With a new Agreement in place that frees us of the archaic and unwieldy structure and processes of our old agreement, we are confident we will build a bright and prosperous future for our University and our people

+ What happens if you don’t reach agreement prior to the Undertakings finishing?

Six months is adequate time to reach a new agreement and our preference is to achieve this before the end of the year.

+ Will key entitlements be affected by this pay offer?

Murdoch University has not sought to extinguish other key employment entitlements. Our focus has been on removing overly prescriptive and complicated processes such as those that impact on the ability of the University to effectively manage change, workload allocation, staff disciplinary matters, and disputes about the operation of the agreement.

Salary Position
(as of May 30, 2017)

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(as of May 30, 2017)

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Industrial Action
(as of May 30, 2017)

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Murdoch Updated Positions
(as of May 30, 2017)

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