Supporting the independent education community

Teacher sets legal precedent

Teachers and other employees on fixed term contracts now have the right to apply for an unfair dismissal determination from the industrial umpire.

This is thanks to the actions of one brave English college teacher, supported by his Union.

Saeid Khayam was employed as a teacher, on a contract basis, by Navitas English. In 2015-16, during a dispute between Navitas and the IEU, Saeid actively promoted the union cause with colleagues.

When his contract expired in June 2016, it was not renewed, despite Saeid having worked at Navitas for 12 years.

Saeid was convinced he was not offered further employment due to his union activities and asked the IEU to support him in an unfair dismissal case at the Fair Work Commission.

The application was initially dismissed on the grounds that Saeid, as a contract worker, did not have the right to claim unfair dismissal but Saeid and the IEU fought on, appealing this decision.

In what is now known as the ‘Khayam Decision’, the full bench of the Commission sets a ground breaking new legal precedent for workers on fixed term contracts, when they found in favour of Saeid on 8 December.

Contract workers now have the right to claim unfair dismissal, and the employer cannot use the end of their contractual term as an excuse for dismissal.

“Saeid has done the heavy lifting for his fellow teachers and Australian workers more broadly,” IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary John Quessy said.

“His brave actions, with the support of the union movement, have shown it is possible to ‘Change the Rules’ and achieve better outcomes for workers,” Quessy said.

Saeid agreed: “I am so glad a legal precedent, which may help others, is the end result. There’s so much movement away from people’s rights and the union movement nowadays.

“More people are being put on contracts, so this kind of law is needed. I’m so grateful to the IEU for sticking with this case and supporting me all the way.”