For everyone Temporary transfers: understand your rights

  • By Paul Mariani
  • This article was published more than 7 months ago.
  • 2 Oct 2023

In our new regular column focused on members’ industrial entitlements, we offer detailed advice on temporary transfers. So if you’re thinking about changing schools, read this first!

At this time of the year, our Member Support Centre often receives calls from AEU members in ongoing positions applying for fixed-term positions so that they can make a temporary move to another school. Before considering such a move, it is good to know the technicalities. An ongoing employee who is the successful applicant for a fixed-term vacancy that is 12 months or less will need to access a ‘temporary transfer’ to take up the position.

Temporary transfer arrangements

The timing of the transfer needs to be agreed by both the principal at the school where the person is substantively employed and the principal of the school offering the position. The discussion will focus on the program and staffing needs of both schools, and the employee’s circumstances and needs.

Members are encouraged to help facilitate that discussion. Release to take on the fixed term position should not be unreasonably refused.

What constitutes ‘not unreasonably refused’?

A temporary transfer can only be refused if the release is required within the same year and where the principal is unable to replace the employee prior to release. The Department of Education’s policy also provides for a temporary transfer at the commencement of the following school year, and how circumstances are to be managed where an ongoing employee’s temporary transfer is to be extended, including requirements for the base school principal to be notified by 1 November.

If you need advice on this matter, the AEU’s Member Support team has significant experience in advising members, based on their individual circumstances. We also have insights from Merit Protection Board hearings, whether it be supporting teachers, education support, or principal members.

This situation has been greatly improved by new commitments in the VGSA 2022, which clarifies the process around temporary transfers.

Clearer rights in the VGSA 2022

Temporary transfer arrangements have been improved by new commitments made between the department and the AEU as part of the Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2022, in which we secured an update to the department’s policy for transfer and promotions that clarifies the release of ongoing employees to temporary positions.

With staffing shortages affecting many schools, it has been difficult for some members to complete a temporary transfer. Even with the staffing challenges in many schools, the department’s transfer policy applies, which means that a principal may need to be able to specifically demonstrate that they cannot find a replacement employee to enable the transfer to go ahead.

To sum up, if a member who is ongoing is offered a position in response to a fixed-term vacancy of 12 months or less at a different school, both principals and the employee need to be proactive in discussions to facilitate that transfer.

If you need assistance or advice, contact the Member Support Centre. We are here to help!


The AEU has a comprehensive range of advice sheets covering common industrial and professional issues in every sector.

Visit aeuvic.asn.au/advice-sheets to search for information on all manner of issues from parental leave to capability assessments to WorkCover and much more.

For all other work-related enquiries, contact our Member Support Centre on 1800 238 842 or [email protected], 8.30am–5pm, Monday–Friday.

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