Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 5, 5 July 2019, page no. 27
I need to leave early for a medical appointment next week, is there a minimum amount of sick leave I have to take?
The custom and practice is that the minimum period of deduction is 15 minutes, and sick leave can be processed in 15-minute increments in excess of this.
Should I be expected to plan lessons if I am on sick leave?
While there is no firm DoE policy, the Union believes each case of teacher absence needs to be considered on its merits. Members should be encouraged to submit planning whenever possible, but should also know there are exceptions to the rule, e.g. when a teacher is very ill or caring for a family member who is very ill. It would be reasonable to expect planning where there is a planned absence. The length of (planned) absence should determine the detail of planning that is provided.
What is the QTU position on teachers being instructed to use their meal breaks for student detentions?
Technically, all teachers should receive a 45-minute uninterrupted break each day, and also the 10-minute rest pause. However, many schools have legitimately reduced the length of time for the uninterrupted break down to 30 minutes, in order to best reflect the timetabling needs of their school.
A teacher’s weekly entitlement for meal breaks is 225 minutes (45 minutes x five) plus 50 minutes for rest pause (10 minutes x five). At the very least, a teacher must receive a paid 10-minute rest pause and a minimum continuous meal break of 30 minutes each day in the opposite break to the rest pause. The practice of enforcing detentions is a school-based decision and should be reflected in the school’s responsible behaviour plan for students. Consideration in developing such roster should be similar to that of playground duty and cannot minimise a teacher’s industrial entitlement to meal breaks.
Is it our job as a teacher to contact parents to follow up unexplained absences of our students?
The collection and management of data on student absences, including following up student absences with parents and care-givers, are captured by the Joint Statement on the Purpose and Use of Data. There are two critical statements to note.
Schools are required to maintain data that relates to student outcomes, such as academic, attendance, behavioural and student wellbeing. Processes and resources to collect, record and follow up such data should be negotiated, outlined and included in the school’s data plan.
It is the expectation of the DoE and the QTU that workload considerations will be assessed at each school and addressed through the school data plan.
In addition to the joint statement, the QTU has adopted a specific position statement on this issue. QTU members should be aware that the Union’s position in respect of data on student absence is that the teacher’s role is limited to monitoring attendance via class roll marking. Classroom teachers should not be required to call parents/caregivers seeking an explanation for periods of student absence.