For everyone Q&A: your Term 2 questions answered

  • 5 Jul 2021

All members

Q. I have a person in my team who is often moody in our shared office and disrespectful in meetings. It is having an impact on the whole team’s ability to work positively. I have tried to support this person and to strategise with the team, but we are unable to make a change to this behaviour. It is at a point where I don’t want to go to work due to the impact this is having on my own health.

A. Speak to your leadership team about this, particularly your principal, and discuss some strategies that may be able to help this team work more positively. You can also look at a formal complaint process if the behaviours are directed at you, which involves putting specific allegations in writing to the principal that then need to be addressed by your colleague. This may result in the principal directing you to undergo mediation, which will require this person to address the required changes.

Ultimately, you are entitled to a safe workplace. If this behaviour is making your workplace unsafe for you and your colleagues – and you have tried everything within your power as a team to resolve this internally – then this should be considered an OHS matter, involving your leadership and HSR, and using formal processes, including logging the issue on Edusafe.

Q. I will be seeking leave without pay for 2022 to continue my studies in education. Can my leave without pay count as service?

A. Leave without pay can still bring rewards for DET employees who have permission to take leave without pay. Employees may be eligible to have that period of leave count towards their long service and sick leave entitlements. If your activities are aimed at improving your skills and usefulness to the department, or of other public value or importance, you should consider applying to have the leave count as service. Applications should be made before you take the leave, as it is difficult to get approval after the event.


Schools

Q.  I work part time and am being asked to perform excess teaching duties on a day off. I’m not against doing extra work for extra pay, but I’m not sure what rate I should be getting.

A.  If you are being asked to undertake additional hours of work that require you to be in attendance beyond your standard time fraction, then you should be paid the overtime rate of pay. Some payroll officers get this wrong because they forget that all provisions of the agreement, except reimbursement of expenses, apply on a pro rata basis to part-time employees.

Q.  I am an experienced teacher who has a very difficult class this year, with some significant and constant behaviour concerns. I don’t feel I’m having any success in changing this dynamic. I’m feeling unsupported by my leadership team and I am not sure what to do. It’s affecting my health and self-esteem, and I just don’t want to be at work some days.

A. Firstly, it’s important to record these behaviours within the school’s system to ensure that you are getting as much support as possible. It is also important to record this as an OHS issue and lodge any significant or repeated behaviours on Edusafe to ensure that your leadership is aware and actively involved in trying to alleviate the risk to you and your other students. It would be good to request a meeting with leadership and the school HSR to formalise some support strategies.

Also, seek assistance from your GP and from EAP to help you devise some responses to the behaviour and to ensure you are supported by leadership in a positive way. Most importantly, look after your health; take any personal leave approved by your GP; and stay engaged with colleagues to provide mutual support.

Q. I am a teacher with a school-aged child. My daughter’s school is having a pupil-free day next week and does not have an out of hours school care program. Can I use carer’s leave to stay home on that day and look after her?

A. Personal leave encompasses sick leave and carer’s leave. Under the DET policy, carer’s leave is available to employees to care for an immediate family or household member who is sick or injured and requires the employee’s care or support, or who requires care or support due to an unexpected emergency. Unfortunately, in this situation you are unable to access carer’s leave and therefore need to apply for another type of leave such as leave without pay or long service leave. Under DET’s LSL policy, you should apply for long service leave with two terms of notice, but a principal may be willing to approve one day of long service leave without the notice period being applied.

Q. If I retire from teaching at the start of next year, I will have a significant amount of long service leave owing, which will be taxed at a high rate. What’s the optimal way of managing this?

A. You are in an ideal position now to provide notice to your employer that you would like to access LSL for 2022. The DET policy recommends lodging an application for LSL with sufficient notice, but no later than two terms before the intended commencement. Accessing your LSL entitlements prior to setting your retirement date will allow you to continue to be employed and as such accrue further leave entitlements and superannuation, and prevent paying a hefty tax payment. All of this will be achieved while you’re not working, so you would effectively kick off your retirement by accessing the entitlements you have accrued over your years of service.


Early childhood

Q.  I work for a local council as a kinder teacher covered by the EEEA. My wife is currently in the early stages of pregnancy with our first child. When our baby is born, what paid leave am I entitled to?

A.  Under the new EEEA and VECTEA, partners who would not normally be considered the primary caregiver can access two weeks of paid leave when their baby is born. This has increased from one week under the old agreements. Some local councils may have slightly better entitlements and where this is the case, the better entitlements apply.


TAFE & Adult Provision

Q. I’m on a ‘default workplan’ under the TAFE Teachers Agreement. I have been asked to deliver more than 21 hours of face-to-face teaching a week, and informed that my maximum face-to-face is averaged over 21 weeks. Is this correct?

A. If you are on a default workplan, the maximum allocation of teaching delivery is a hard limit of 21 hours per week, unless you agree for it to be averaged. This is clearly outlined in Clause 32.11 of the agreement, which is an important clause because if your institute asks you to teach more than 21 hours and you are on a default workplan, they must pay excess teaching duty hours in the subsequent pay cycle.

Q.  I have been employed in TAFE as a casual for more than 13 weeks and have been asked to undertake classes for another semester. When I asked about converting to ongoing or fixed term, I was told I was not ‘entitled’ to convert.

A.  There is no ambiguity in the TAFE Agreement about the conversion provision. Clause 12.6 expressly states that an employee in this context, where there is a mutual expectation of continuing future employment, is ‘entitled’ to convert. Furthermore, if you have been advised that you are a ‘genuine industry expert’ (GIE) and not entitled to convert, you should call the Member Support Centre for advice on how to pursue conversion. There is no clause in the agreement that prohibits conversion as a GIE, especially if the institute has erroneously classified you as such.

Q. I have been working in the disability sector since 2010 and have accepted a new position with another employer. Both of my employers are part of the long service leave portability scheme. Will the LSL I’ve accrued since 2012 be carried over?

A. The scheme took effect in 0ctober 2020 for the community services sector, which means that only the LSL you have accrued from October 2020 will form part of the scheme. Any LSL accrued prior to this date will be paid out to you upon resignation. Keep in mind that you need to have worked for your employer for a minimum of seven years to access LSL or have it paid out upon resignation.

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