Media spotlight on unfair leave policy

Read more:

DEC Statement on standards-based pay
Teachers mull lawsuit against Education Department - The Educator
Department's policies don't add up for women - 2016 Annual Conference report by Anna Uren 

Media organisations have shone a spotlight on Federation’s battle against the Department over a new policy that in practice penalises teachers who take time off to have babies.

Women’s Coordinator Anna Uren highlighted this issue at Annual Conference and the story is getting a good run in the media and social media.

Radio 2UE questioned whether the policy contravened legislation that made it illegal for women to be placed on lower pay when they returned from maternity leave.   

The policy to “dock” teachers of recognised salary-linked experience when they take a few years off came to Federation’s attention in May when teachers began to call in to complain. The Department had made it retrospective from January.

Ms Uren said the Department’s “Interim Salary Review Policy” removes recognition of child rearing and contains salary penalties for teachers with broken career patterns.

A clause would knock any teacher who has a five-year break in teaching back to the beginning of the salary scale with those teachers ineligible to apply for a salary review. Ms Uren explained that while the policy applied to all teachers, female teachers who took maternity leave were the most affected.

On Radio 2UE today, Ms Uren was asked what the Department’s justification was in bringing in the policy. “The Department claims that it is about teacher standards but it’s not – it’s clearly about cost cutting,” she replied.      

The radio announcer said the policy “flew in the face of all that rhetoric” by the government on work-life balance and closing the gender equality gap.

Ms Uren said the Department’s stated position that teachers who keep their hand in with casual teaching during their time off would not face disadvantage was at odds with the experience of teachers who had told Federation that they had been told their casual service did not fulfil that requirement.

The Women’s Coordinator told radio listeners the new policy could persuade teachers to leave the profession and pointed out that the government needed teachers for increasing school enrolment numbers expected in coming years.

The Sydney Morning Herald gave significant coverage to Ms Uren’s comments in an article entitled “New teacher salary system discriminates against women”.  

The paper quoted a Department spokesman as saying the policy was part of the Great Teaching Inspired Learning “reforms” that “aim to improve the quality of teaching and reward those teachers who achieve higher levels of professional accreditation, rather than the previous system, based upon years of service only”.


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