Enough: Less than 42 – reducing workload
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 5, 10 July 2020, page no.11
Following the recent period of learning from home, the media has been full of new-found appreciation for teachers and principals. With the wider community having a glimpse of the work that members do, the tide of public opinion started to turn – at least until teachers start to speak about workload.
Some people believe that teachers only work 25 hours a week. This is a myth that needs to be debunked.
Teachers and school leaders receive a salary – they do not receive a wage based on the hours that they are rostered to attend work. The salary presupposes that teachers and school leaders work outside rostered duty time. The five hours a day allocated against members’ sick leave, long service leave etc reflects rostered duty hours as this is the “pattern” of work undertaken that is most easily identified. However, it’s the hours worked beyond the 25 hours of rostered duty time that encroaches on the workload of teachers.
More than12,000 QTU members responded to the Union’s Queensland Teacher Workload survey (2018), which showed that teachers work an average of 44 hours per week and school leaders work an average of 62 hours during a typical week. The findings are consistent with other education and industrial research, and are excessive.
How then do, we calculate what is reasonable? And what measures can demonstrate that workload is being reduced?
The calculation that the QTU has adopted uses the weekly hours of a public servant and the number of weeks per year they are required to attend work, and applies it to the school setting.
A Queensland public servant is required to work 36.25 hours per week and attend work for 46 weeks a year (52 weeks less four weeks annual leave and two weeks of public holidays). They are therefore required to work the equivalent of 1,667.5 hours (36.25 x 46) each year.
Teachers and school leaders have a 40-week school year (the five student free days are not included as there are also five public holidays during the school year. Divide the annual hours of a public servant by 40 weeks, and the average weekly hours of work for a teacher or school leader is 41.7 hours or <42.
To be clear, there is no requirement for QTU members to work 42 hours per week, or work during school holidays or public holidays. “Less than 42” recognises a tipping point and aims to provide some balance between work and the rest of life.
Teachers and school leaders who are routinely performing 44 hours per week or more are experiencing time theft, which makes talk of a pay freeze all the more unjust. Remember, <42 does not include work during school holidays.
Reducing the average hours of work to less than 42 will be the next step in the QTU’s workload reduction campaign.
To achieve any real reduction of workload we need to address it at the levels it is created. The Union has identified six levels that influence workload: federal; state; region; school; individual and community. We cannot focus on one element, we need to reduce the workload across all levels.
In response to the public sector wage freeze, the QTU is calling on members to support the acceleration of this campaign. Members have been providing suggested work bans or strategies they believe will address workload creep, and are also encouraged to take the time to complete a submission to the Workload Advisory Council.
Using this information, the QTU can work with members to affect a real change.
It’s time for us to say ENOUGH.