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As an employee in an Independent school, your conditions of employment may be determined by a few documents read together.
Many schools have made collective agreements, usually with the involvement of the Union. This is the first place to look to ascertain your conditions of employment. Below is a list of Enterprise Agreements - look here to see if your school has an Enterprise agreement and to get a copy of it. An Enterprise agreement is the most secure and efficient way of improving conditions of employment in your workplace. If your school has such an agreement, it is legally binding and the Modern Award does not apply.
In 2010 Modern Awards replaced the old awards with streamlined and stripped back conditions. Modern awards are not as comprehensive as old awards and, although some conditions were retained, inevitably some were lost. If your school does not have a collective agreement covering you, your basic conditions are set by the relevant Modern Award. These are way below the industry standards and are only an absolute minimum intended as a merely “safety net” to prevent exploitation. For details see the links below.
- Modern Award: Educational Services (Teachers) Award 2020
- Modern Award: Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award 2020
- Modern Award: Educational Services (Post Secondary) Award 2020
National Employment Standards
Modern Awards and Enterprise Agreements operate in conjunction with the National Employment Standards (NES), which are 10 minimum conditions that all employees are entitled to. These include annual leave, public holidays, personal leave and parental leave. The NES are minimum conditions which are not usually as good as current industry standards.
Contracts and Policies
The school may also have issued you with a letter of employment (or contract) and may also have adopted policies which provide certain terms and conditions of employment. Importantly, these are unenforceable if they are not at least as beneficial to you as the Enterprise Agreement, Modern Award or NES (whichever applies to you), and some provisions may not be enforceable at all. All members should contact the IEU Victoria Tasmania for advice prior to signing any new employment contract.
What to do
Check the conditions in your school’s Enterprise Agreement (or the relevant Modern Award, if your school has no Agreement). Unfortunately, the way the Agreements, Awards, NES and contracts interact is complicated. Before you come to any conclusions about your rights, contact the IEU Victoria for advice. You may not want to take any action at all, but at least we can ensure that you know your rights.