Our answers to the most common questions reaching our Member Support team in Term 4, 2022
Q. I am pregnant and concerned that my job may expose me to significant COVID risks. I’m a community engagement officer and my role is largely face-to-face.
A. Under the Fair Work Act 2009, a pregnant employee has the right to be transferred to an appropriate safe job if she can provide evidence that it’s inadvisable to continue working in her current job because of illness or risks arising out of her pregnancy, or hazards connected with her position. If an appropriate safe job exists, the pregnant employee has a right to be transferred to the role with no loss of pay or change to her terms and conditions of employment. If there is no appropriate safe job available, the pregnant employee is entitled to take paid or unpaid leave, depending on the employee’s length of service. Ring the MSC for further advice.
Q. Does someone returning to full capacity after a long period of absence need a medical certificate?
A. Possibly. Although, an individual’s absence can vary significantly based on personal circumstances. In some situations, specifically those involving illness, you may be best placed to provide a clearance letter from your doctor informing the workplace that you are fit to return to your assigned duties. Regardless of your circumstances, the union can help guide you in a successful return to work.
Q. I need to take a few days of sick leave but my doctor is booked up for days and so is the online service. Can I get a medical certificate from my pharmacist?
A. This depends on the agreement or award you are employed under, but generally speaking a registered health practitioner, as defined by Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Victoria) Act 2009, can issue a medical certificate. A pharmacist is considered a registered health practitioner, however they usually only issue a Certificate for Absence from Work and only for those ailments within their area of practice or expertise, such as treatment for colds and flu, and where they can reasonably assess an employee’s fitness for work. Alternatively, if you are unable to see a health practitioner, you could potentially supply a statutory declaration.
Q. We have two compulsory meetings a week at my TAFE. As I work 0.8, do I need to attend every meeting?
A. The MEA 2018 Clause 11.2 (b) states: The entitlements in this Agreement apply on a pro rata basis to part-time Employees. However, if you are rostered to work on the days and times at which the meetings take place, you would be required to attend accordingly. Make sure your attendance at meetings is accurately accounted for in your Annual Workplan.
Q. I need advice on the grandfathered SE1 role in the current TAFE MEA. I’m worried I’ll be exposed, as I do not have the qualifications required to be in the 2018 classification.
A. If you were an SE1 at the time the MEA 2018 became operative, you will continue at that salary classification, which is equivalent to the maximum teacher classification under the MEA 2018 of L3.4. Under Schedule 4 Transitional Arrangements C, the MEA 2018 provides: Where an existing Senior Educator does not hold an approved teaching qualification as set out above the Employee will be permitted to translate to the appropriate level in the new classification structure.
Teacher classification at L3 requires you to hold an AQF6+ qualification that includes studies in adult learning methodology; teaching in a Vocational Educational environment; Applied Research (linked to the Boyer framework of scholarship); and 200 hours of supervised practicum. Several universities offer graduate certificates and diplomas in vocational education and training that would enable you to become qualified at AQF6+. Be aware that if you move to another TAFE institute and do not hold an AQF6+ with the above requirements, you won’t be classified at L3.
Q. I’m employed under the Educational Services (Teachers) Award 2020. I heard the Fair Work Commission increased the wage rates under this award by 4.6% on 1 July. Should my pay have increased?
A. The Fair Work Commission’s decision has increased the minimum rates payable under the award by 4.6%, rather than increasing everyone’s existing rate of pay by 4.6%. If you were receiving a higher rate of pay than the minimum award rate, your employer may not have to increase your pay. However, they must ensure you’re being paid at least the minimum prescribed by the award. Check your current rate of pay against your classification under the award. If you’re being paid less than the current minimum award rate, you should speak to your employer.
Q. As a kinder teacher, what is the difference between the contributions to portable LSL I received in the last two years and what I previously accrued?
A. There is a significant difference in what you accrued prior to 2020 compared to the portable scheme. From January 2020, early childhood employers were required to pay a levy into the central long service leave (LSL) scheme on a quarterly basis. Only what you have accrued after January 2020 is portable, so if you are planning to take LSL and have a balance accrued prior to January 2020, you should consider using this LSL before your portable LSL. This will preserve your portable balance if you change employers.
Q. My service has recently changed hands and I’m being asked to provide evidence of my 30+ years as a preschool director. How do I find this information?
A. Ideally, the best evidence of your service is in a document named a Statement of Service, which you can request at any point during your employment. This usually shows any periods of leave as well as your classification and years of experience. In situations where this is not possible, e.g. your prior employer went into liquidation, you can refer to other records such as contracts of employment and pay slips. Even email records can be persuasive. If you are referring to other documents to summarise your history, it’s best to collate and chronicle them in an easy-to-read format.
Casual Relief Teachers
Q. I’m currently on maternity leave from an ongoing position. I have been doing a few days casual relief teaching this year but no other work since April 2021. If I do not reach 20 days of work, what happens to my VIT registration? If I’m taking a break from teaching, should I let it lapse?
A. Maintaining registration is much better than letting it lapse. There is an option when reregistering with VIT to meet the requirements of 20 days teaching over an extended period to allow for periods of leave. This is referred to as ‘recency of practice’. To continue with full registration, you can tick the box indicating you have taught up to 100 days within the previous five years. If the PD or teaching requirement cannot be met, your alternative is to move to non-practising registration, which precludes the need to meet these requirements.
Q. My disability service has advised me that they do not pay pro rata long service leave even after seven years of service, so if I leave my job before 10 years I will forfeit all my accrued LSL.
A. Almost all Victorian workers have a right to long service leave but, depending on your sector and agreement, that right may be care of the LSL Act 2018, an enterprise agreement, a pre-reform award, or some other industrial instrument. In Victoria, if the relevant award or agreement is silent on long service leave, the LSL Victorian Act 2018 applies in default as the base standard for both the public and private sectors. You may be entitled to payment for service exceeding seven years – however, we would need to review your agreement to offer accurate advice.
For advice on these or any other work-related matters, call our Member Support Centre on 03 9417 2822.