Nine-year courtship ends in tears and late night drunken txt messages

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has recently ruled against the University of Otago following a complaint over the University’s failure to confirm Dr Jane Millichamp as a lecturer, after nearly ten years on a fixed-term employment agreement.

Dr Millichamp began working as a lecturer at Otago in 1998, but was subject to confirmation, an employment agreement in which academics are put on long-standing trial periods while the University assesses their “suitability” for the position. The confirmation period was extended multiple times, and by 2007 Millichamp was still not subject to a permanent employment agreement. The same year, after nine years of service, Otago claimed Millichamp had not published a sufficient quantity of research and offered her the choice of dismissal or a demotion from lecturer to teaching fellow.

After Millichamp’s appeal to the University was rejected, the Tertiary Education Union complained to the ERA on her behalf. In a decision released on April 5, the Authority held that Millichamp had not been treated in good faith, as required by the Employment Relations Act.

Despite ruling in her favour, the ERA made no decision on a remedy for Millichamp, instead leaving her and the University to work out a solution for themselves. Critic suggested a “last man standing” beer pong competition.

Asked to comment on whether it had acted unfairly and how it intended to rectify the situation, a University spokesperson responded, “Unfortunately, it’s inappropriate to comment on the employment related matter at this time.” Critic hopes that the wait for a substantial response will take less than the requisite nine years the University seems to require to make up its mind.
This article first appeared in Issue 8, 2012.
Posted 5:04pm Sunday 22nd April 2012 by Charlotte Greenfield .