Your questions answered

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

Dear Danielle
I am thinking of leaving my position as a community kindergarten teacher given the bullying I’m experiencing from a member of the management committee. They use their position to continually question my teaching methods in quite an aggressive manner. I feel like I have nowhere to turn because the committee is my employer.

Dear Cassie

The repeated behaviour being exhibited towards you certainly meets the definition of workplace bullying.

The Fair Work Commission considers a worker to be bullied if an individual or group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker or a group of workers. It must also be behaviour that constitutes a risk to health and safety.

It is always preferable to try and resolve the matter at an informal level if possible, but it sounds like your situation is one requiring a formal complaint to be made, which our union can assist you in drafting.

Once the employer is aware of a complaint, they are required to invoke their complaints management system to address it.

Where it has been established that bullying has occurred, if an appropriate informal resolution can be attempted in the first instance, either by speaking directly to the alleged bully or through mediation, this should occur.

However, if this is not suitable, for example, where the behaviour or power imbalance is severe, it would be inappropriate for any direct approach to be made. Your employer should formally investigate and resolve the matter and take all necessary action if substantiated.

Should this not be successful, or should your employer not manage this appropriately, there are options you can consider and our union can assist you in taking the next steps needed to formally address the matter and ensure you receive the respect at work you deserve.

Finally, no one has the right to be aggressive, verbally abusive or physically abusive toward anyone in a workplace. This is occupational violence and should be reported. If you think what you have experienced is more than workplace bullying, be sure to contact us for help.


Dear Lisa

When I receive annual leave loading (over Christmas), should the 17.5% loading be made on just my teacher hourly rate or inclusive of the director’s loading as well?

My employer paid loading only on my base hourly rate but not on the additional director’s loading. I don’t understand why the amounts need to be separated and I would have thought the loading would be paid on my overall hourly rate given I am still the director while on annual leave and have still worked from time to time in management duties during the annual leave period.


Dear Sarah

Annual leave loading is paid on the base or weekly rate of pay. Fortunately, the enterprise agreement that applies in your service is clear. The Director’s Allowance is included in your base rate of pay. The IEU insisted that the wording in the enterprise agreement be clear to ensure directors would be paid annual leave loading on their Director’s Allowance and that the Director’s Allowance would be payable during periods of paid leave including personal leave, annual leave and long service leave. Your annual leave loading should have been paid on your Director’s Allowance.

The relevant clause in your enterprise agreement is: “8.3: Base rate of pay is the rate of pay payable to the employee for his or her ordinary hours of work. With the exception of a preschool manager whose Manager’s Allowance is included in their base rate of pay, the following amounts are not included in the calculation of the base rate of pay: (a) Incentive based payments and bonuses; (b) Loadings; (c) Monetary allowances; (d) Overtime or penalty rates; (e) Any other separately identifiable amounts.

31.1 Employees entitled to annual leave will receive an annual leave loading of 17.5% on their base rate of pay, which is payable at the time the leave is taken.”

It is lucky your workplace is covered by an enterprise agreement. Unfortunately for teachers working in services covered by the Educational Services (Teachers) Award, it is not always the case that annual leave loading would be paid on the Director’s Allowance.