Your questions answered

Dear Tina

I have been asked by my employer to use my programming time for extra COVID cleaning throughout the centre. I am feeling stressed and concerned that the children in my room will not have their needs met. Can my employer do this?


Dear Remmy

Under the Educational Services (Teachers) Award 2021 there is a provision for non-contact time. If you are responsible for preparing, implementing and/or evaluating for a child or a group of children the answer is ‘no’. Your employer cannot make you give up a workplace entitlement to perform cleaning duties. A full-time teacher is entitled to a minimum of two hours non-contact time per week, pro rata if you are working part-time. During this time you are not required to supervise children or perform other duties, for example, cleaning.

If an enterprise agreement applies to your workplace you need to check the provisions in the Agreement.

Please contact the IEU if your situation is not resolved.


Dear Dan

I am a Teacher’s Assistant at my local community centre. I have been working there for three years on a regular basis, but I am still classified as a casual employee. Is there any way I can be converted to permanent employment?


Dear April

Unfortunately, your story is not uncommon in our sector.

In the first instance, check whether your centre has a collective agreement with a casual conversion provision. Our union has successfully negotiated enhanced conversion provisions for casual employees and generally, where staff have been employed for 12 months, on regular casual engagements, they can be considered for conversion to either permanent continuing or part-time status. Our union can help you navigate this process or can step in to help if there are issues regarding an application already underway.

Unions have also won some amendments to the National Employment Standards (NES) for those employees not covered by a collective agreement, requiring employers to offer conversion to casual employees in certain circumstances. Again, we can support you through this process. However, the requirement to offer does not apply to businesses with less than 15 staff, which is the case for many of our community-based centres. Contact us for advice specific to your situation.

Job security is an ongoing challenge when it comes to the delivery of quality education and one our union continues to campaign on.

In terms of your situation, I would suggest you contact your organiser or an IEU industrial officer to discuss how a formal request for casual conversion may be made and supported by your chapter colleagues.

I would encourage you to become an active campaigner for our union’s Fund Our Future campaign which aims to secure fairer ongoing, guaranteed funding to the early childhood education sector so that kindies can plan long-term investment into their staffing. While this campaign will not be won overnight, together we will make a difference to the job securityof the sector.