Department tries to rewrite the rules

Gary Zadkovich
Deputy President

Policy would deny teachers incremental credit for previous years of teaching experience and child-rearing duties

The Department has unilaterally moved to implement a salary review policy that denies teachers incremental credit for previous years of teaching experience and child-rearing duties.

Under the pretext of the change to a standards-based salary scale in the current salaries and conditions award (2014-2016), the Department has decided to “cease to apply an existing policy, write a new one, apply it retrospectively and provide no notice to teachers of the policy change” (Federation letter to the Department, May 25).

Federation contends that the Department’s new policy:

  • fails to acknowledge service that was undertaken prior to the implementation of standards-based remuneration
  • uses the salary level paid by other accredited employers, rather than the years of eligible service, to determine the salary a teacher would be paid in a NSW public school, thereby reducing salary determination to the last payslip issued by a previous employer
  • unlawfully discriminates against women teachers, by removing recognition of child-rearing, removing recognition of full-time maternity leave for those who take more than five years leave, removing recognition of prior service of teachers returning from more than five years maternity leave, and not allowing a salary review to take into account any teaching service undertaken while on leave
  • constitutes a new claim under the current award.

Discrimination
Beyond the failure of the Department’s revised approach to account for the impact of broken service across a teacher’s career on both the rate teachers are paid and their eligibility to apply for a salary review, the proposed policy indirectly discriminates against women teachers more broadly.

Women in the teaching service are more likely to:

  • be employed in positions to which the policy applies
  • take breaks in their careers for the purposes of child-rearing responsibilities
  • have a mix of casual, temporary and permanent service, for which they would be ineligible to apply for a salary review, as part of a consequent broken career pattern.

As a result of these patterns, the proposed policy is likely to reduce women’s average salary across the teaching profession and further the gender pay gap.

Legal action
As this matter has not been resolved through negotiation with the Department, Federation will take legal action to seek a reinstatement of the previous salary review policy.

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