Teaching staff in NSW Christian schools have been meeting in support of fair personal/carer’s leave in the NSW Christian Schools Teaching Staff Multi-Enterprise Agreement (MEA) that is currently under negotiation by the Union with Christian Schools Australia (CSA). Negotiations have been underway since October 2017 to replace the previous MEA that expired in December 2017.
Late in 2017 the IEU received proposals from Christian employers for changes in personal/carer’s leave that reduced the existing annual entitlement of 20 days to 15 days per annum. Other education sectors have also moved away from a high annual entitlement with a cap to a lower annual entitlement with indefinite accrual. Where this has occurred in government, Catholic and independent schools, unions have negotiated significant benefits. These include a bonus 15 days personal/carer’s leave on transition for existing teachers or on commencement for new teachers to address the change to progressive accrual; more flexible forms of evidence rather than just medical certificates and longer time periods before evidence is required.
It also includes maintenance of all existing accrued personal/carer’s leave; availability of leave for illness, injury, unexpected personal emergency, availability of leave for illness, injury, unexpected personal emergency or domestic violence affecting the employee or a similar circumstance affecting a member of the teacher’s family and an annual entitlement of 15 days per year (accruing progressively) with indefinite accrual.
These conditions have been under discussion with CSA and the Union awaits a further response. Of particular concern to the Union is the Christian employers’ attempt to limit accrual of leave. In a recent employer Teaching Staff MEA communication to staff, the Christian employers question whether full accrual of leave “is necessary or prudent”. Further the document suggests that the levels of accumulation under the IEU proposal seem “unnecessary and excessive”. The employers claim that school auditors are examining these leave proposals as potential liabilities for schools.