Let’s talk about pay

Employers don’t always get the numbers right – in 2021, the IEU recovered more than $2.7 million in underpayments to members. So it’s important to know what to look out for.

Now that we’re nearing the end of Term 1, those of you who have changed jobs will be settling in and your pay will have been neatly deposited into your account each fortnight.

But have you checked your payslip to make sure everything is correct?

The start of each year is when your pay may be adjusted because of pay rises, progression through a salary step or a change in hours. Progression may occur at other times of the year depending on your anniversary date, which is calculated on your years of service.

To ensure that you are not being underpaid (or overpaid), it is imperative that you take some time to check that everything is correct by reviewing your payslip.


If you have changed employers, you must provide Statements of Service to confirm your years of service upon commencement of employment. Your years of service can have a big impact on your salary level.

It is not enough to list your experience in your resume. Your previous employer is required to provide a Statement of Service if you request it but note there can be substantial delays with the Department of Education.

You may also be expected to provide proof of when you achieved Proficient Teacher status with NESA (NSW) or TQI (ACT). When you start a new job with a different employer, make sure you know the pay and classification structure that applies to you and how the pay will compare with your previous position.

Support staff

Pay rates vary between employers. Check your pay and future progression when you start.

Many of you will have your wages ‘averaged’ each year (so the pay for the term weeks you work plus annual leave is spread over 52 weeks of the year). This averaging is based on how many term weeks there are at your school and the number of weeks you are required to work. If the number of term weeks changes year to year, your hourly rate may need to be adjusted.

All staff

Salary increases in schools are usually applied in January, February or July (usually from the start of the next pay period on or after a specified date). Make sure you know when salary increases occur by checking your enterprise agreement or the Modern Award and check your payslip to make sure everything is on track.

Your payslip will state what salary level you are on. Check it and if it does not look right, speak to payroll.

Anyone who has had their hours change from one year to the next should check that the change is reflected in their payslip. Any discrepancy is easier to resolve the sooner it is identified.

If you have been overpaid, you will be required to pay this back, so it is better to have this resolved quickly to avoid a debt.


Teachers should know when their anniversary date is – that is, the date that you will have completed another year of full-time equivalent service. For full-time teachers this will be the same date each year.

However, for part-time teachers, it will be adjusted based on your part-time FTE each year. This can affect when increases are applied or when you become eligible to apply for further salary levels.

Under almost all enterprise agreements and the Modern Award, the date you achieve Proficient Teacher status is also relevant to your entitlement to progress up the salary scale. Know the date and check for salary movement when expected.

Spotted a discrepancy?

If you are concerned you are not being paid correctly, contact the union immediately for a review of your pay. We will ask for copies of your contract, your accreditation status, details of your service history and copies of recent payslips.

In 2021, the IEU recovered more than $2.7 million in underpayments to members.

However, an assessment of an underpayment or an overpayment can be time-consuming depending on how long the mistake has been in place.

It is in your best interests to get in the habit of checking your payslip at least yearly to ensure it is accurate. If you’re in doubt, call us.

Donna Widdison