10 February 2020
Wet weather can result in pressure on schools to provide additional shelter for students. While this is understandable, it is important that it isn’t provided at the expense of teachers’ rights.
Teachers are entitled to an uninterrupted meal break and 10-minute rest pause each day, regardless of the weather. Consequently, schools should make appropriate arrangements to ensure that, in the case of wet weather, supervision duties do not reduce these entitlements.
At the end of each week, a full-time teacher must have received a daily 10-minute rest pause and 225 minutes per week of uninterrupted meal break (whether this is provided in half hour or 45- minute blocks per day is subject to LCC discussions). Any modified playground duty roster to accommodate wet weather must ensure these entitlements.
Also, it is not recommended that schools open classroom doors to students before the start of the school day, whatever the weather conditions.
Setting up a roster for before or after school supervision where none has existed previously may prompt the courts, in the event of litigation, to determine that the school has set up a duty of care and that teachers and school leaders are liable in the event of negligence.
Once a duty of care has been established it becomes an expectation, and may become an obligation from which teachers and administrators may not be able to extricate themselves without liability at a later date.
Industrially, teachers are required to be in attendance at school during rostered duty time, for bus supervision or as required to attend staff meetings. Consequently, they cannot be directed to commence school early for the purposes of supervision unless this forms part of their rostered duty time.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064