Member Assist Q&As

The team in Member Assist answers some of members' most commonly asked questions

If the Q&As below do not answer your question you can get more information from Know Your Rights. If you need further assistance the next step is to speak to your local union rep for advice. Many issues can be settled at local level as an individual or a branch matter. Consulting with your union rep is strongly encouraged.

Your Member Assist team is also available to offer prompt, professional industrial advice. You can contact Member Assist by using this form or by calling 9210 6060 or 1800 106 683.

I don’t work on a Wednesday; do I still have to attend staff meetings that fall on this day?

No. Teachers who work part-time are not required to attend staff meetings that fall on a day that they do not work. However if a part-time teacher works on the day the meetings are scheduled, then they are required to attend. This is also the case where professional development days fall on a day a teacher would not ordinarily work. If the teacher is asked to attend on a day they would not ordinarily work and agrees to do so, they must be paid for the time they are required to attend

What happens if I fall pregnant whilst already on unpaid parental leave?

As a permanent teacher on parental leave, if you fall pregnant again while on parental leave or leave without pay and are yet to return back to your substantive position, you will be granted another entitlement to paid parental leave the same as you received prior.

My partner is about to have a baby, am I entitled to any leave?

Yes. An employee who is not the primary care giver is entitled to a period of paid partner leave of up to one week at the time of the child’s birth; this leave does not apply if the preceding five days would be part of a school vacation period.

I am a permanent teacher but I have been offered a fixed-term contract. Can I accept it?

Yes. You must however obtain permission from the principal of your substantive school to be released; the approval to release a permanent teacher is at the discretion of the principal unless the contract is for the Remote Teaching Service. If your principal does not grant permission and you still wish to accept the fixed- term appointment you will need to terminate your permanent status with the Department of Education.

Can I take short leave to attend my best friend’s wedding?

No. Short leave can only be taken for events that are of a personal and pressing nature, which arise with little or no notice and require immediate attention and cannot reasonably be conducted outside normal business hours. However, you could submit an application for leave without pay, and will be subject to the principal’s approval.

I heard that if you call in sick on the first or last day of term you must supply a medical certificate. Is this correct?

Yes. If an employee is absent on sick leave on the first or last day of term they are required to produce medical evidence that they were unwell. This is even the case if an employee has not used any of their entitlement that doesn’t require medical evidence.

I have a sick family member who I have to care for beyond the maximum allowed days of Carer’s Leave (12.5 days). What leave can I take to extend the caring of the family member?

You can, in extenuating circumstances, apply to the employer to access additional carer’s leave beyond the maximum 12.5 days from your sick leave [Clause 31(1)(b) of the Award].

I am a permanent teacher at my metropolitan school and am thinking of going into the Remote Teaching Service. Can I go and still have my permanent position at my metro school to come back to?

Yes. Clause 37.9 of the Schools General Agreement 2019 states: “Teachers holding a substantive position who are appointed to the Remote Teaching Service will maintain their substantive position for the term of the appointment up to three years.”

I am currently on sick leave and my school is constantly contacting me via email and phone. Can they do this?

In the exchange of letters, of which parties to the Agreement and Award agree to honour the contents, it states that: “Teachers and school administrators are not required to initiate or respond to electronic and other communications from school staff, parents or community members when not on duty, unless in an emergency. This includes time when staff members are on sick leave or approved leave, public holidays and term breaks.”

My line manager wants to observe my class for my performance management cycle. Can they do this?

The exchange of letters states that: All teachers are to be observed in the performance management cycle by either a superordinate of their choice or peer of their choice for the purpose of feedback…Teachers can elect to put forward a record of that observation.”

My line manager has stated they are concerned with my performance and are going to do classroom observations. Can they do this?

Yes. In the exchange of letters it states that: “Should a superordinate have performance concerns, which are linked to classroom practice, the superordinate or their nominee can undertake an observation of a teacher’s classroom practice as part of providing support and advice for improvement.”

I’m going on long service leave at half pay. Do I need to let the union know?

Yes, and your membership fees will reduce! We don’t receive updates from the Department of Education about your work status, so you need to contact the Membership Team if any of the following details change: Work fraction (FTE), salary grade/step, contract status, school/worksite, name and contact details, bank or credit card info.

I am on a fixed term contract working three days a week. My current school wants me to work an additional day, is this paid the same as casual relief rates?

Teachers who are required to work additional days at the school in which they currently hold either a fixed term contract or substantive appointment will be paid as an additional day. The school will increase the fraction for that week worked and not as a casual relief teacher.

I want to take a year off on leave without pay and do relief. Is this possible?

Unfortunately, you are not currently allowed to undertake relief work with the Department of Education (DoE) whilst on leave without pay. There are exceptional circumstances in which permission can be granted but these are generally in situations where no other relief teacher is available in the locality. Please note this is not applicable to those who are currently on parental leave without pay.

I am a second year graduate teacher and have been advised that I don’t have access to additional release time.

This is correct. The graduate release time is only given to teachers in the first year of teaching. You will still receive your graduate allowance payment.

I have been asked to inject insulin to a diabetic student. Is this a medical procedure and do I have to do it?

The term medical procedures, for the purpose of this policy, includes: injecting insulin or other medications intravenously, stoma feeding, nasogastric feeding, changing catheters or colostomy bags, administering enemas or rectal valium and tracheotomy care. It does not include the use of auto adrenaline injectors for the management of anaphylactic reactions or administering asthma medications. Teachers may decline to conduct medical procedures should they not feel comfortable in conducting these procedures.

Is there a dress standard for teachers?

The current DoE Code of Conduct does not make reference to dress standards but does require employees to undertake and “encourage positive work habits, behaviour and personal and professional workplace relationships and boundaries.” What constitutes appropriate attire should have regard to the specific circumstances at hand.

So, for example, a design and technology (D&T) teacher could argue that jeans are appropriate dress in the D&T workshop, as they are hard-wearing and protective. A dance specialist teacher can wear dance attire when demonstrating dance routines/manoeuvres to students. Obviously this attire would not necessarily be worn at other times and definitely not at formal occasions such as graduation ceremonies.

Teachers’ professional judgement needs to be based on common sense and take into account the various circumstances pertaining to a specific situation. It would be inappropriate for a teacher to wear an item of clothing that is of an offensive nature, is too revealing, or which advertises products or companies through images or slogans that are unsuitable for a school environment.

My principal is reluctant to establish the School Workload Advisory Committee. Are they obliged to establish the committee?

Yes. Clause 45 of the 2017 General Agreement states that: The principal will establish a Workload Advisory Committee at the commencement of each school year. The Workload Advisory Committee will assess workload management issues in the school, including the provision of advice to the principal during the school year to assist in the management of workload issues in order to improve the focus on teaching and learning outcomes.