The Union has been contacted from time to time by members querying their school’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies that require teachers to purchase their own laptop for use at school, including purchasing the device by salary sacrifice from their employer.
The Union has consistently advised members that they cannot be required to purchase a computer for work use.
Our advice has been vindicated by a recent Federal Court decision.
In a decision handed down on 6 November 2015, the Federal Court considered a scheme affecting about 50,000 government school teachers in Victoria, involving over $20 million of deductions. Teachers had been encouraged over a period from July 2009 to the present to purchase computers for work use, with the deductions salary packaged.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) argued in the case that the arrangement was not a genuine salary packaging arrangement for the benefit of the employee and instead should be characterised as an unlawful deduction from salary to pay for a work tool.
The Federal Court agreed with the AEU that the deduction was not authorised as salary packaging because the provision of a computer could not be considered as a form of remuneration to the employee instead of cash.
The main benefit in providing the computer was to the employer and even if the teacher may have obtained a small benefit from personal use that did not change the overall purpose of the program.
The Federal Court also found that the fact that no other work computers were provided in schools effectively “forced” teachers to enter the salary packaging arrangements so they could have a computer to perform their work.
The Court concluded that teachers had not been paid in full the salary owed under the enterprise agreement and therefore would be entitled to compensation. If your school requires you to purchase your own computer for work, contact your Union organiser immediately so we can advise you whether your circumstances are similar to those in the Victorian case. If they are, you may be entitled to recover money deducted, including in a salary packaging arrangement.