Your questions answered

Dear Kate

Due to COVID and staff shortages, my centre is often without relief to cover breaks. Many times I have had to work through a whole day without a meal break. I brought this up with my area manager and she told me that it was allowable as I get a paid break. Is this correct?


Dear Nikki

This is not correct, you are entitled to a paid break without duties. This is an important entitlement that also relates to work, health and safety considerations. In some unforeseen circumstances, you can be called back from your break to perform duties such as supervising children, but you must be compensated for the missed time. In the modern award, it states that where an employee is called back to perform any duties within the centre or the break is interrupted for any reason, the employee will be paid 150% of the minimum hourly rate for a minimum of 15 minutes and thereafter to the nearest quarter hour until an uninterrupted break, or the balance of the break, is taken.

If you are under an enterprise agreement, check the conditions for meal breaks, it should cover circumstances where an employee has had to forego their meal break, and the employer should then reschedule the meal break as soon as possible.

Please contact your IEU Organiser if this situation does not get resolved.


Dear Danielle

I am in my third year of teaching and have been working in my current kindy for just over a year. It seems though that I’ve struggled to satisfy the Committee with my work. They constantly niggle me about my performance and I’m scared my job may be in danger. What can I do?


Dear Terri-anne

When it comes to managing performance, employers need to be transparent and ensure they offer employees a chance to respond to any concerns they have and, if founded, a reasonable opportunity to improve.

Employers often believe informal little ‘chats’ are enough to justify taking direct action on performance. However, this is not the case. If there are genuine concerns, you need to be advised in detail about them and in writing. The employer needs to give specific examples, not just ambiguous statements like “we have lots of complaints from parents”. You should have the opportunity to reply to the concerns, which we recommend you do so in writing and in consultation with our union. If escalated further, a formal plan to address the concerns needs to be developed.

Any plan must outline, in detail, the concerns and expectations the employer has of you. Your employer must explicitly list their issues and specify exactly what needs to be done to address these to improve your performance. It must be designed to give you a genuine opportunity to either show you are meeting the requirements of your role, or to improve on any valid concerns raised. The plan should involve regular reviews where you can have a support person with you.

We suggest you get in front of this and contact our union now for further advice and support.