In this issue: Labour Day | QTU Biennial Women's Conference | Rosemary Richards' Scholarship |  Part-time work | Paid parental leave update 


Term 2, 2016 | Download as PDF

Welcome to this first Women’s e-News for 2016. This edition includes details of a number of events and opportunities for our women members, an update on federal paid parental leave, and information intended to develop a deeper understanding of permanent part-time conditions and requests for return to full-time work.

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Date claimer - QTU Biennial Women’s Conference

The QTU Biennial Women’s Conference is coordinated by the Women Teachers and Girls Education Committee of the QTU. The theme for this year’s conference is Claim the Space, and it will be held on the first Monday of the winter school holidays, Monday 27 June, at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. Registration and program information will be available in early May.

Rosemary Richards’ Scholarship 2016

Women members are encouraged to apply for the 2016 Rosemary Richards Scholarship.

The scholarship is aimed at providing a woman member of the AEU with the opportunity to increase her skills and experience in the union’s work at a state/territory/national or international level, and by extension, support the AEU’s women members. The proposal may include (but is not limited to):

  • the establishment of a work-shadowing arrangement or a mentoring arrangement
  • research or study experience
  • formal and/or informal training and development opportunities (e.g. attendance at an appropriate conference) 
  • the design and implementation of a discrete project.

The scholarship is valued up to $10,000 per year. The deadline for applications is Friday 27 May.

The scholarship is named in honour of Rosemary Richards, a proud feminist, unionist and educator. She was a respected leader, colleague and friend who played a crucial role in shaping the AEU as an organisation which reflects feminist principles.

The scholarship, now in its tenth year, is in recognition of the significant contribution that Rosemary made to the AEU as an organisation and to all its members, women in particular.

Across the AEU, women’s employment rights and women’s union participation has been steadily advanced due to the active, committed and predominantly female membership, but challenges still remain.

For more information, please refer to the guidelines and nomination form on the AEU Federal website http://www.aeufederal.orgn.au/our-work/rosemary-richards-scholarship-2016

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Part-time work

Keeping written records

Although the department has a very good permanent part-time (PPT) policy, which enables employees to request permanent part-time for a range of reasons, and even though access to part time work is essentially an entitlement for women returning from parental leave, I am often contacted by members who have put in timely requests but have had difficulty receiving confirmation of fractions or days. Sometimes our members are advised that they can’t be informed until after day eight. This is not appropriate, especially when timely notice has been given.

It is important to remember that the teacher’s permanent position is attached to the school, that active consideration needs to be given to the PPT request, and that negotiation and communication need to be timely and specific if the request has to be re-negotiated or can’t be accommodated. Where a request can’t be accommodated, the policy requires that the principal provides the reasons in writing.

Where possible, it is important to put in requests for PPT or changes in fractions as early as possible. It is very useful, and often crucial, to keep good records of requests, queries and responses. Email can be the best way to keep a track of requests, accommodations and negotiations. Often, conversations occur as administrators seek to understand the needs of the teacher, the school timetabling considerations and what flexibility is available. Even where conversations occur, it can be very important to send an email confirming your own understanding of what was said and what was explored or may have been agreed to. The QTU has found that such records have helped it achieve appropriate resolution to PPT matters, especially for women returning from extended family responsibility leave.

The QTU is working with the department, requesting that it strengthen the implementation of the part-time policy, embedding in implementation the culture of support for PPT as articulated in the departmental policy.

Fractions and full or half days

At times, the QTU receives examples of teachers working permanent part-time fractions that go to a second or third decimal point. Such fractions shouldn’t exist when teachers are employed part-time, as the teachers can only work full days or half days between .2 to .9. Please contact the QTU if you need to seek clarity in relation to your circumstances.

It is also important to note that negotiation is needed in relation to permanent part-time work, but that the goal of flexible work arrangements is to assist an employee with work/life balance and, most often (but not always), family responsibilities. For example, while a .8 fraction can be worked across 5 days, as can a .6 fraction, the goal should be to facilitate the teacher working complete days, unless the work across the five days meets the teacher’s needs.

Application for return to full-time or changes to fraction

There is now an application form to use when requesting either an increase or a reduction in your employment fraction, including putting in a request to return to full-time work. The application needs to be lodged during the staffing cycle (transfer process) so that consideration of your request can be made in the context of other staffing considerations.

It is important to give due consideration to whether you require a temporary reduction or a permanent reduction. Temporary reductions can be negotiated on the basis of the end date you indicate. Once the end date has taken effect, you would automatically be returned to full-time (if that is how you were originally employed), unless you have negotiated a new request and agreement.

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Update on federal government paid parental leave – post June 30

The federal government has failed to secure support for its proposed changes to paid parental leave in the Senate, with the majority of cross-bench Senators supportive of a policy that, when introduced, was bipartisan and was described by the LNP in opposition as not going far enough. In a complete backflip on its bipartisan approach in 2010, you may remember that the LNP government flagged the changes on Mothers’ Day 2015, when the then Treasurer, Joe Hockey, referred to families accessing the Commonwealth PPL as “rorters and double dippers”.

While, at the time of writing, it is clear that mothers can still apply for both the DET and CPPL entitlements beyond 30 June 2016, further modifications to the scheme after the election could still occur.

Members requiring information about the Commonwealth PPL scheme, including eligibility and requirements, should refer to the Family Assistance Office of Centrelink.

DET Document and Policy: Parental Leave Procedure (Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave Scheme) 

Australian Government, Department of Human Services – Parental Leave Pay

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Concluding comments

This Women’s e-News has set out to draw your attention to specific working conditions and information in a general way. Knowledge is power, and shared knowledge grows stronger workplace cultures in relation to ensuring shared understandings of the department’s proactive policies and its legislative and industrial obligations to its employees.

To grow this knowledge and understanding, I invite Union Reps and branch/area council Women’s Contacts to please share and discuss the contents of this newsletter with others.

If some of the conditions flagged seem complicated, you can seek clarification or assistance from the QTU by contacting QTAD at qtad@qtu.asn.au or 1300 11 7823

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