Independent schools: Better conditions on the way

The multi-enterprise agreements covering 250 independent schools include the following improved conditions.

Progression on attaining proficient status: The new Standards and Hybrid Teacher MEAs provide progression to the next pay band on attaining Proficient status will occur immediately in the next pay period rather than only occurring in February and July each year.

Emergency disaster leave (all MEAs): The IEU claim for emergency disaster leave of two days per year has been agreed. The leave would be available if an employee was unable to attend work because of a declared natural disaster, such as bushfires, severe storms or flooding.

Notice of meetings and PD (all Teacher MEAs): Schools are required to advise teachers of the term dates and teacher attendance dates by the end of Term 3 in the preceding year. Any PD and meetings must occur on the advised attendance dates. Reasonable notice must be provided of all other meetings and PD, etc, with schools being required to give the maximum possible notice of such commitments and, where practicable, include such commitments in the annual school calendar.

Promotions positions – payment of allowance to part-time teachers (all Teacher MEAs): Payment of leadership allowances to part-time teachers holding such positions may be paid pro rata if the teacher is not carrying out the full leadership role. The union considers this change will assist part-time teachers to attain leadership roles.

New protections for part-time teachers (all Teacher MEAs): The new Teacher MEAs require part-time teachers to be told in their letter of appointment the percentage of a full-time teaching load they have been given. The school can only vary the teacher’s load or days of attendance by agreement or in certain other limited circumstances.

Flexible working arrangements (all MEAs): For the first time, all new MEAs contain detailed provisions applying if an employee requests part-time or other flexible working arrangements, including a requirement that the school consider if there are other options available to accommodate the employee’s circumstances.

Reduced penalties if insufficient notice of resignation is given (all MEAs): The new Teacher MEAs provide that a maximum of two weeks’ notice will be owed to the school if the teacher resigns without giving the required four weeks’ notice. In the case of the Support and Operational Staff MEAs, the maximum that will be owed by an employee is one week’s pay.

Support staff hours of work (NSW and ACT SAO MEA): Casual staff will be paid overtime if they work additional hours outside of ordinary hours; and the unpaid meal break will only apply to staff who work more than five hours per day – this means part-time staff working less than five hours will not be required to take an unpaid break. Hours of work are much clearer for boarding house staff and ensure they are not in effect working more than 38 hours for which they do not get a benefit. On-call recall and sleepover allowances (payable to nurses and boarding house staff) has been reworded so the employee gets the allowance unless they are entitled to accommodation for their exclusive use all week and all year.