Welcome back to another year of Present Tense, your window into the world of English, Business and VET post secondary colleges. We hope you’ve had some rest over the summer, because 2020 is shaping up to be another wild ride!
The industrial basics
Do you know your basic rights? Employment in the post secondary sector is largely governed by the provisions of the industry award, the Educational Services (Post-Secondary Education) Award 2010.
Like all awards, it covers your basic entitlements of pay, leave, and hours of work. Award annual permanent salaries range from $50, 591.71 at Level 1 to $66,218.05, while casual employees are also entitled to a loading of 25% (all pay rates are adjusted each July). As of last year, there is also a casual conversion clause, allowing casual employees to convert their employment to ongoing.
Many colleges routinely underpay award rates (how many times have you been informed at a new college that they ‘only pay Step 4’?), but the legal position is that you are entitled to be paid the correct award wage, and indeed, it is unlawful for parties to ‘contract out’, or agree to be paid less. Of course, in practice, it can be hard to insist, so make sure you keep all your pay slips –underpayments may be claimed for up to six years after the fact, and the IEU regularly claims back payments on behalf of members worth thousands of dollars.
Other sources of your employment rights come from the Fair Work Act and the National Employment Standard (which sets the minimum standards for all jobs across a range of areas), as well as the provisions of any individual employment contract that you sign. Remember, though, that your conditions of employment cannot legally be lower than what is laid out in the NES or in your award – so know your rights!