Our advice on the most common questions reaching our Member Support team in Term 1, 2023
Q. I need to attend a friend’s wedding during the term. Can I take personal leave for this?
A. No, you cannot use personal leave to attend a wedding. Personal leave can be used if you are injured or ill, if an immediate household or family member is ill or injured and requires your care, or if you are required to provide ongoing care and attention to another person who is wholly or substantially dependent on you, provided that the care and attention is not wholly or substantially on a commercial basis. Should you need to attend a wedding at a time that you would normally be expected to be at work, you would need to request to use annual leave, long service leave or leave without pay.
Q. Should I be provided with a pigeonhole or locker for personal items at work?
A. The OH&S Act 2004 and Work Safe compliance code on amenities and work environment require employers to provide accessible, secure storage at the workplace for the personal property of employees that enables personal items (such as handbags, jewellery, personal identification documents, personal medication or hygiene supplies) to be stored securely while the employee is at work. If this is not happening at your workplace, raise this with your staff-elected Health and Safety representative and, if not quickly resolved, call the AEU and we’ll step in to help you get that essential pigeonhole or locker!
Q. I have been working in a fixed-term position in TAFE for the past 18 months. When will I be eligible for ongoing employment?
A. In accordance with clause 13.4 in the Victorian TAFE Teaching Staff Agreement 2018, an employee becomes eligible for conversion to ongoing employment when they have been employed continuously for 12 months. Where there are ongoing positions available and an equal number of eligible employees suitable for those positions, the eligible employees will be converted to ongoing. Where there are more eligible employees than ongoing positions, the employer will conduct a selection process to assess the employees against the requirements of the position to determine which employee/s will be appointed to the ongoing positions. In April each year, the employer is required to conduct a review of all fixed-term and casual employees to identify those eligible for conversion, to identify suitable ongoing positions, and to offer ongoing employment to eligible employees where a suitable position is available.
Q. I have a new student who requires assistance with toileting. There is no lifting as such, but the student requires supervision and support with personal hygiene. Is this a required part of my education support (ES) role?
A. Yes, this work can be required of an ES. It is important to raise any concerns with your principal and that steps are taken to alleviate these concerns as much as possible through the provision of training prior to this work being expected of you, and establishing clear lines of communication with the student’s parents so that you are well supported. Talk to your principal or manager as early as you can to let them know of any discomfort, but if supervision and support with toileting is a requirement, you can be directed to do this.
Q. I am a primary school teacher who is being directed by my school to utilise part of my teaching and learning time for meetings during the day. Can this be required of me?
A. This could be a proposal rather than a direction. The Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2022 sets the parameters for teacher work, with 30 hours provided to undertake work directly related to the teaching and learning program of their classes, including the maximum face-to-face teaching hours and any duties needed to undertake the tasks directly related to teaching and learning (such as planning, preparation, collaboration and assessment). Clause 22 (8) in the VGSA 2022 states that these duties will be determined by the teacher. As such, you cannot be directed to attend any meetings during your 30 hours if they do not fit with the duties you have determined as relating to your teaching and learning program.
Q. As a teacher, am I still entitled to a scheduled Professional Practice Day (PPD) this year?
A. Schools will need to provide for two PPDs in 2023, one of which can be held on the same day for all staff. In 2024 and beyond, the single PPD can be held on a common day. Most importantly, the PPDs are in addition to existing pupil-free days and planning time (pro rata for part-time) and can be rescheduled by agreement. Moving forward, it may be the best to establish the PPD dates directly through the consultative committee at your school.
Q. I have been asked to work extra hours in my ES role to cover a new student, so I have agreed to go from 18 to 26 hours a week. How should I get paid for this period and should I sign a contract?
A. Yes, there should be something presented to you in writing to ensure that this temporary time fraction increase is documented. There are two ways of being paid as an ES. The first is being at your normal rate of pay per hour, which would attract the accrual of leave, including annual, personal and long service leave. The second is as a casual, which has a loading on your hourly rate to cover your entitlements up front. Most schools will pay you at your normal hourly rate and so you should see your leave balances increase to reflect the eight hours extra per week, and you can access this annual leave during the first term break. Check eduPay and speak to your Business Manager to ensure this is made available to you.
Q. I have been employed at the same sessional kinder for five years. If I resign, will I get any long service leave paid out to me?
A. An employee would normally need to be employed for seven years continuously with the same employer before they are able to access long service leave. So, in your circumstances, you would need to wait for another two years before having it paid out upon resignation. The MSC can assist members in calculating their long service leave entitlement. Feel free to contact us to discuss your individual circumstances.
Q. I am an educator for a committee-run kindergarten employed under the VECTEA. I am pregnant with my first child, due in June. What leave am I entitled to?
A. The VECTEA entitles an employee to 16 weeks of paid parental leave as long as they have had at least 12 months service with their employer prior to accessing the leave. An employee can be absent for up to 78 weeks (one and a half years) in total for each child. The MSC can provide advice about all aspects of leave in kindergartens, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help with understanding and accessing your parental leave.
For advice on these or any other work-related matters, call our Member Support Centre on 03 9417 2822.