Push for review of children check cost

Greg Butler
Industrial/Research Officer

Those working with children must obtain a clearance check at their own expense

Federation is continuing to campaign with Unions NSW and other public sector unions against teachers and other public sector workers having to bear the cost of a Working with Children Check.

The union has been receiving increasing inquiries from members about the requirement that workers, rather than their employers, pay the cost of the check.

Changes to child protection legislation in 2013 require employees in child-related work to hold and bear the cost of a Working with Children Check clearance. The legislation makes it an offence for both an employer and an employee if a worker is employed in child related work without a valid clearance. However, the cost of compliance with the law falls only on the worker.

In 2013, the Federation joined with Unions NSW and other unions covering workers who are required to have the check to commence a campaign to oppose the imposition of the fee.

This campaign included members sending letters of protest directly to the then premier, Barry O’Farrell.

The unions applied for an award in the Industrial Relations Commission in 2014 for public sector employers to reimburse workers the cost of their checks but in 2015 the IRC Full Bench disallowed that application as an extra claim under existing awards.

The IRC also characterised a reimbursement of the workers’ fee by an employer as an “allowance”, which in effect would mean that any cost associated with either reimbursing workers or paying for the check would be deducted from the 2.5 per cent annual increase in workers’ pay.

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