For everyone AEU win in ‘off-duty’ case for school camps

  • By Rachel Power
  • This article was published more than 8 months ago.
  • 1 Aug 2023

In a significant win for AEU members, the Victorian government will provide an additional $130 million for school budgets over the next four years following a favourable outcome for the union in its dispute with the Department of Education over time in lieu for teachers and education support staff attending school camps.

Following the lengthy dispute between the AEU and the department, a settlement was reached, with the Fair Work Commission handing down a consent determination that when a teacher or ES is required at a camp overnight, or to meet student supervision ratios, they cannot be deemed ‘off duty’.

This means that both teachers and ES will now be regarded as ‘on call’ and provided with time in lieu for the eight hours of attendance overnight on school camps. For all other hours outside normal hours of duty, teachers will be deemed ‘on call’ or ‘on duty’ whenever required to meet the staff-to-student supervision ratio.

Teachers will be paid at 100% of the ‘on call’ rate for attendance overnight – equivalent to receiving their normal rate of pay for four hours. Education support staff will be paid at 150% of their normal rate of pay for four hours.

Significantly, the AEU has also secured a further $130 million over four years from the state government to enable schools to meet the cost of overnight on-call payments for teachers and education support staff attending school camps. This will commence from 1 January 2023. These additional resources, provided through school budgets, will enable schools to plan their school camp programs with certainty.

“No worker should be expected to participate in required work activities outside their normal hours for free, let alone those with the level of responsibility expected of teachers and ES attending school camps.”

AEU Victoria president Meredith Peace said the outcome vindicates the union’s position, secured in the Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2022, that school staff must be deemed ‘on duty’ or ‘on call’ whenever part of the supervision ratio on camps – and that government must support schools to meet this cost so that no students miss out on this important aspect of their education.

“No worker should be expected to participate in required activities outside their normal working hours for free, let alone those with the level of responsibility expected of teachers and ES attending school camps,” Meredith said.

Back in September last year, the AEU was dismayed when the department issued time in lieu guidelines advising principals not to “assume that time spent at the camp outside of the allocated 38 hours, such as free time at the end of an afternoon of activities, constitute actual working hours” when developing their resource plans.

Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy expressed shock at the memo, telling the media: “Parents would have an expectation that teachers going on camps in loco parentis are on duty 24/7.”

Meredith Peace has described the Fair Work outcome as “a great win” for AEU members.

“Congratulations to the sub-branches who lodged grievances over the time in lieu ‘off duty’ issue; to the individual members who were ready and prepared to appear before the Fair Work Commission as witnesses in our case; and to the members who spoke out in the media and who lobbied their local politicians, highlighting the difficulties being encountered in both running camp programs and appropriately compensating staff for their additional hours of work,” Meredith said.

“This would not have occurred without the efforts of members.”

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Members can find answers to FAQs on time in lieu and other VGSA clauses at aeuvic.asn.au/help-advice/vgsa-all-you-need-know

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