Your questions answered

Danielle Wilson is an industrial officer for IEUA-QNT and Tina Smith is an organiser for the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch. They answer your industrial and legal questions as they relate to state laws and regulations.

Dear Danielle

I am a teacher working in a kindy and I was talking with a friend of mine who is also a teacher working in another centre. We have both been teaching the same length of time and we are both working as directors in affiliate kindergartens, and yet my friend gets better entitlements than me. Why would this be the case?


Dear Linda

Our members who work in early childhood education settings generally have an enterprise agreement that applies to their centre. However, many of these are treated as individual worksites and the negotiations for an agreement take place at the individual workplace. This means that there is capacity for different conditions and entitlements to be negotiated. While this sounds okay, it is not ideal because it offers too much room for hard fought conditions to be undermined.

We do our best to keep a close eye on the trends in bargaining in our early childhood sector, because we know how important it is to maintain consistent conditions for our members. We rely on our members to know their agreements and to alert us to their concerns in bargaining. We can see clear benefit for our members in the concept of industry/sectorwide bargaining. Having industry/ sector-wide bargaining would offer much greater protection of wages and entitlements than what our members currently have.

It is good to know that our members are discussing these matters between worksites, and this networking is crucial to keeping the conversation going and ensuring that everyone is informed about industry standards and what is happening in other worksites. We definitely encourage our members to report these differences to us so that we can work with our members across our centres to try and improve conditions for all.


Dear Tina

I am a four year trained early childhood teacher and I have been working as the only teacher in a private long day care centre near Wollongong. I currently am paid for my lunch break because I am needed for child/staff ratios. However, recently my employer has not been paying my lunch break while I’m on annual or personal leave. My question is, can my employer not pay me for my lunch break when I am on annual leave and/or take personal leave?


Dear Michelle

Under the Fair Work Act, section 90, Payment for annual leave, and section 99, Payment for paid personal/carer’s leave, you are entitled to be paid your ordinary rate of pay or what might be called your base rate of pay.

If you are ordinarily paid during your lunch break because you are required to stay on premises for ratios under the Education and Care Services National Regulations, then this is counted as time worked and you are paid for this time. It is considered part of your base rate of pay.

Your employer has stated that you are required to remain on premises to meet regulations, hence the time you start work and the time you finish are your base hours. Therefore, your employer must pay you for your lunch break when you are on personal/ carer’s leave or annual leave.

It would be remiss of me not to mention at this time that even though you are being paid your lunch break for ratios, this does not mean you don’t get between 20 minutes and 30 minutes time away from the children to have your own lunch.