Monash ad hoc approach to Letters of Engagement makes Freedom of Information cost prohibitive
It seems that Monash has had an ad hoc approach to your letter of engagement for years. The letter of engagement, a document fundamental to your employment rights, is the one that employs you or, should your employment status change, renews you in that new mode.
NTEU became curious last year about the content of those letters. No, we did not want to see everyone’s letter of engagement since 1991, but we figured in this computerised age that templates for such routine things would have existed since the early 1990s and that it had been merely a matter of inserting the personal and work details into the right template.
12 months after we first tried and 9 months after we first paid the correct fee (that delay being our fault – we accept that) and 6 months after we reached agreement with the University’s lawyers about the content of our request so it would be manageable for the University and 7 weeks after we approached the Victorian Ombudsman’s Office when we became sick of the silence; we received a letter saying we could get our documents if we paid $5,851.58. No, we won’t spend members' money on that.
What makes this interesting is not the bloody-minded obstructionism to which we have become accustomed. Rather, it is the explanation for the difficulties in getting the documents.
The letter we received from the University, which you can download and read below, says that templates apparently did not exist before 1998 and were each drafted “afresh”. They are unsure of whether they were applied from 1998 to 2005 (though it is described as “likely”).
What this may mean for you is anything from nothing at all to a significant diminution of your expected entitlements – particularly if your work has included periods of research-only work or other fixed-term employment and there have been breaks between contracts.
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