At the start of each school year, many new parents begin a period of parental leave. The IEU advises that all teachers and support staff taking parental leave check their first payslip carefully. An eagle eyed IEU member who works as a teacher in a Catholic systemic school contacted her Union after discovering something strange in her payslip – she was being paid much less than she should have been while on parental leave.
Following some investigation by the member and her Union, the member was told by her payroll administrator that she was mistakenly being paid at a part time rate because she had undertaken a flexible work arrangement to reduce her working hours prior to taking parental leave. Instead of the 1.0 FTE she was entitled to receive, she was only being paid 0.2 FTE.
The mistake was made because of a misinterpretation of the Catholic Systemic Enterprise Agreement (EA), specifically Clause 38.1 (b), which stipulates that:
“Paid parental leave will be paid for 14 weeks at the rate of pay the employee would have received, if the employee had not taken parental leave. For example, where an employee is on flexible working arrangements at the time of taking parental leave, the rate of pay will be at the rate at the time of taking the leave, ie the FTE or hours of the temporary arrangement rather than the permanent FTE or hours of the employee.”
Because the member’s temporary flexible working arrangement had concluded at the time she began parental leave, and therefore she was back on her permanent 1.0 FTE workload, she was entitled be paid at the 1.0 FTE rate, as this is how much she would have been working if she was not undertaking parental leave.
It’s important to note that not all enterprise agreements (the document that covers your pay and conditions) are the same, so be sure to check your relevant EA or ask your Union for advice if you’re concerned about being underpaid while on parental leave. Additionally, the individual circumstances of employees may be different to the above case, leading to a different outcome.
Thankfully this particular error has now been rectified, and the member is back on the 1.0 FTE rate she is owed while on parental leave. Raising a baby is hard enough without having to worry about payroll errors!