Time for a change?

What you need to know if you’re planning to resign

For any number of reasons, as the school year begins to wind down, Term 3 tends to be the time school staff start thinking about moving on. Maybe you are thinking of taking on a new career opportunity, winding back, or a sea or tree or city change.

As a school or preschool employee, if you are considering resigning from your current position, there are some things you need to be aware of before you say Adios!


First and foremost, you must find out what conditions apply to submitting your notice of resignation.

The first condition will be how many weeks’ notice is required. Notice periods can range from one week up to seven weeks. There are also different conditions depending on whether you are a teacher or a general employee.

For teachers:

  • a minimum of four term weeks’ notice is required if you are covered by a negotiated enterprise agreement
  • at least seven term weeks is required if your employment is covered by the Educational Service (Teachers) Award 2020.

Further conditions could apply depending on the agreement your employment is covered by. For example:

  • The whole notice period will need to be within a term.
  • For some, the last day of work should not fall in the last two weeks of a term.
  • If you can’t give the full number of weeks’ notice, your employer can ask you to forfeit pay in lieu of notice.

Most resignations are submitted at the end of a school year. As many non-government schools have different finishing dates, teachers need to be clear as to when the last working day is before submitting their resignation.

For general employees:

  • The notice period can range from one to four weeks depending on how long you have worked with the employer.
  • The notice does not have to be in term time.

General employees are, however, still subject to forfeiture of pay if the notice period is not met.


After you have submitted your resignation, you should seek clarification about whether the resignation will impact on your end of year leave entitlements.

For most school and preschool employees, your pay is based on the notion of not working during pupil vacation periods. This means that over summer, up to four weeks of your pay will be your annual leave entitlement. Whether you are paid a full four weeks will depend on how many term weeks you have worked during the year.

When resigning, payment during the following January may also depend on your school’s service date.

For most schools, the school service date is the first day of Term 1. This means that if you work a full four terms you will generally be entitled to be paid up to Australia Day the following year.

However, a small number of schools have a school service date of 1 January. In these schools, staff, especially teachers, are generally only paid up to 31 December.

A resignation before the end of Term 4 or any unpaid leave taken during the year will have an impact on the calculations of your end-of-year entitlements.

Once you've submitted your resignation, you should ask about:

  • when you will be paid to and details of any outstanding leave entitlements
  • getting a Statement of Service on school letterhead
  • processes for the return of school property, with particular focus on handing back school devices like laptops and management of personal data.

Whether you're moving to a new school or retiring, it's a great idea to notify the IEU by emailing: membership@ieu.asn.au


If you are heading to a new school employer, we recommend you check out the employment conditions before you sign on the dotted line.

Not all agreements are the same. This applies to all employees – teachers and general employees alike.

Different agreements have different pay structures and requirements for progression to higher levels. Different schools have distinctly different expectations about workload. Members can access agreements for different schools through our website.

If you are considering a change for 2022, we recommend you contact your IEU organiser to discuss your plans and any questions related specifically to your personal circumstances.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Donna Widdison