For everyone Q&A: your Term 2 questions answered

  • By Rachel Power
  • This article was published more than 8 months ago.
  • 30 Jul 2023

Our advice on the most common questions reaching our Member Support team in Term 2, 2023


All members

Q. I am struggling to support my elderly parents while working full time. What are my options?

A. Fair Work legislation supports the right of all employees to apply to your employer for Flexible Work Arrangements for the purposes of meeting your caring responsibilities. You can do this at any time, but most managers will ask for your intentions for the following year by September, so it would be worth aiming for that date. If part-time work is not an option for you, or not able to be accommodated by your workplace, then you would be best placed to access your Personal (Carer’s) Leave as needed by providing a certificate for each absence. This could allow you to have a consistent day off each week to attend to your caring responsibilities. It would be worth discussing this with your parents’ treating practitioners and providing this information to your manager so that they can make alternative arrangements in the workplace.


Schools

Q. What does a meeting ‘adjacent to the school day’ mean?

A.  This is a common question! The confusion has come about because of the term ‘school day’. Many members think of the school day in terms of student attendance. However, the term ‘school day’ refers to teacher attendance. Teacher attendance is made up of 5 x 7-hour days. In addition to that, teachers can be asked to be in attendance for an additional three hours per week, two hours of which can be used for scheduled meetings. Many schools will have a start time of 8.50am, but this can vary from school to school. Under the terms of the agreement, the time that becomes adjacent to the school day is seven hours after the start time. Therefore, if a school meeting adjacent to the school day is set to be run after school, the start time for the meeting, in this example, would be 3.50pm.

Q. What is the standard length of the probation process for school staff?

A. A change to the probation process has been introduced in the latest Victorian Government Schools Agreement (VGSA 2022). Probation is still required when a person is employed as an ongoing employee. In these circumstances, a probation period is required. This process shall not exceed 12 months for teachers and six months for Education Support (ES) class. The probationary period for an employee who has at least 12 months service with the employer in the previous 24 months, including any period of fixed-term employment, will be up to six months for a teacher or three months for an ES. This provision is a huge step forward for those who have been in fixed-term employment and then translate to ongoing employment, as the probation process will be completed faster.

Q. I work part time and my workday is not at the beginning of the week. Do I need to provide a medical certificate if I am absent on my last day of work or first day back, before or after a term or a public holiday?

A. There are differences in Department of Education policy on non-attendance for personal leave before or after a school term break and before or after a public holiday. With respect to school terms, part-time employees need a medical certificate, as: “a required document must be provided for personal leave which occurs either immediately before or after … school vacation.”

However, the policy makes some exceptions for part-time employees regarding public holidays. Where the public holiday is not one of your designated working days, a required document for personal leave on the day before or after a public holiday may not be required.

Q. I have been hit by a student and it is really bothering me. What should I do?

A, Sadly, AEU members often call the union after being assaulted by students. In many cases, members are torn between feeling they should minimise the incident because it involved a child, and a justifiable need to see the matter properly addressed and to minimise the risk of it happening again.

The AEU seeks to emphasise that incidents like this are not OK, and should not be ignored. Everyone has a right to be safe at work and for our employers to take these matters seriously.

We encourage members to report any such incidents to their GP and to their school’s health and safety representative (HSR), as well as calling the AEU’s Member Service Centre, so they can get assistance with logging the matter on eduSafe, and a request for follow-up consultation that includes reviewing the school’s practices and behaviour plans to help ensure that such incidents are not repeated.

Q. I’m a school principal whose staff (ES and teachers) have asked about TIL accrual based on a First Aid course our school did last week. We paid $80 per staff member for this training, with two hours attendance required for the practical side of the course at school after hours.

A. School activities required by you that lead to attendance in excess of 38 hours in a week (or normal hours for a part-time teacher) will attract time in lieu (TIL). In this case, the additional attendance is two hours if it is adjacent to the school day. Therefore, each attendee would accrue two hours of TIL. See pages 42–46 of the VGSA 2022 Implementation Guide (available on the AEU website) for some ideas on how to acquit TIL for teachers and ES.

Q. I am returning from parental leave and want to continue breastfeeding my baby. I have heard there were some positive changes to the Schools Agreement in regards this. Can you outline what to expect?

A. You are correct. This is one of the many wins for members in the latest agreement. Lactation breaks are now covered in clause 24(16), which outlines a requirement for staff returning from parental leave to put forward a proposal outlining your needs, including lactation breaks of up to one hour per day, that tries to avoid significant disruption to the school program. The school must make a space available for this use or allow you to attend to this offsite. Your request should not be unreasonably refused, and this time must be paid and in addition to your lunch break.


TAFE

Q. My AQF6+ qualification has been rejected for salary classification at TAFE Level 3 because it doesn’t include ‘Studies in Applied Research’ (linked to the Boyer framework of scholarship). Why is this?

A. The Boyer framework of scholarship is a broad academic model for purposeful and enriching research-based study. The framework identifies four types of scholarship: Discovering Knowledge; Integrating Knowledge; Applying Knowledge; and Scholarship of Teaching. Applied Research falls into the third category. The Victorian TAFE Association has narrowly interpreted the Applied Research requirement in AQF6+ and AQF5+ qualifications, limiting their acceptance to qualifications that contain explicit units titled ‘Applied Research’. This should not restrict your access to Level 3 salary classification if you can demonstrate that the subjects you undertook included applied research. It can be difficult to argue this with TAFEs, but we can assist with reviewing your studies and helping you mount an argument for Level 3 classification.

Q. I have undertaken a number of excess teaching duty hours at my TAFE across the year, but my employer has only paid me half of my usual hourly rate for these hours. Is this correct?

A. The wording of the Excess Teaching Duty Hours clause in the MEA 2018 (clause 33.5(a)) can be easily misunderstood. It states that, for ETDH that occur within the span of ordinary hours (6am–10pm Monday–Friday and 9am–5pm Saturday), you will be paid “an amount at the rate of 50% of the ordinary hourly rate”. Note: This means an additional 50% on top of your ordinary hourly rate. If you work ETDH outside the usual span of hours, you will be paid overtime rates (Monday–Saturday: 150% for the first two hours and 200% thereafter; Sunday: 200%; and, for work performed on a public holiday or substitute day: 250%.

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