QTU members' newsflash No 12-20 | 2 April 2020 | DOWNLOAD PDF
To QTU Members
Workplace health and safety and workload remain our focus
in this issue : Covid-19 | Workplace health and safety | Workload | Continuity of learning - what we know | Travel over autumn holiday period | Supply teachers and access to the pandemic leave directive | Senior teacher | Experienced senior teacher | Temporary and casual employees | Teacher transfer and rural and remote transfer programs | Extension of early dues payment discount until 3 April | Celebrating 48000 members
Thank you to all of our members who have been doing a great job supporting each other and forwarding questions to the QTU during this difficult period of the global pandemic.
Please refer to the QTU COVID-19 page on the website for the latest updates.
COVID-19 has brought us to a situation in which business as usual is no longer possible. The next few weeks remain unpredictable for us all. With regard to your planning and preparation, maintain a common sense approach. There is a lot of learning occurring on new platforms; whether they are flexible or remote, that will take some time to adapt to. There will be obvious changes to the way we work, but many of the changes that may occur are as yet unidentifiable. Throughout this difficult transition, it is essential that we continue to make judgements on what constitutes a reasonable request or expectation, and what does not.
It is important that we respect the work everyone in schools is doing to keep people as safe as possible. Government information and decisions, at both the state and federal level, continue to change on an almost daily basis. It is important that we share this information and continue to negotiate local arrangements in a respectful and supportive manner where possible. .....back to top>
The QTU’s ongoing focus remains the health, safety and wellbeing of our members as the changes to our workplace environment continue. The two most critical issues that have been resolved are the processes to support vulnerable employees and carers to access work flexibly at home or access leave arrangements, and the capacity to direct sick students to go home in the event that they present to schools with flu-like symptoms.
The QTU also negotiated with the department over the past two weeks to ensure that supplies of appropriate hygiene and cleaning products were provided to schools. It is unacceptable for the employer to expect staff to go to work without providing these items and the safety they offer.
Thank you to the QTU Representatives in schools who raised their concerns with their regional organisers and were able to get these issues resolved in their workplaces. As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues, the QTU will ensure that all schools are provided with these essential items on an ongoing basis. .....back to top>
QTU members have been working hard over the past few weeks getting ready for potential remote learning and blended modes of delivery. Many schools have been able to adapt what they have already been doing reasonably easily, but for others it is a significant task.
The QTU has been negotiating with the Office of State Schooling and directly with the Minister for Education and Director-General, raising concerns about teacher and school leader workload. We know the information coming from the department has not always been timely and can also be open to interpretation, however we are working to resolve issues daily.
There are some key issues to consider in terms of the potential impact on teacher and school leader workload as we see out this week of student free days and plan for an uncertain beginning to term two.
Firstly, the advice from the department has been clear. This is not a business as usual situation. Schools that are planning to replicate everything they do face-to-face at school in an online environment are not going to be able to achieve this without significant additional human or physical resources or without breaching existing working conditions and impacting on the wellbeing of staff and students.
There was no expectation that 10 weeks of work within a new way of working should have been created across five student free days. Many schools are using this week to explore options for delivering curriculum, given the connectivity and equity issues involved in moving to a 100 per cent online mode of delivery.
It is critical that consultation occurs if there is a change in work practices, and this should occur, as normal, through the LCC. The declaration of a global pandemic does not void the working conditions and industrial entitlements outlined in the certified agreement.
If you are concerned about the workload impacts of what is being expected of members at your workplace, contact your Regional Organiser or QTAD on 1300 117 823 to discuss the options available to you. .....back to top>
As schools plan for remote learning for students the following parameters have been agreed with the department.
- It is not expected that remote/online instruction should be for more than two hours a day.
- There is a focus in P-10 on five curriculum areas: English, maths, science, HASS, and digital technology.
- The platforms available at the time of publication are iSee and Blackboard Collaborate. The department has improved access to Microsoft Teams and continues to negotiate a parent-authorised access to Zoom.
- Attendance processes will be determined by central office. These haven’t been finalised, so schools should not implement their own in addition to the department required process.
- The rostered duty time in the award does not change in a remote learning environment. You cannot be expected to be in student contact beyond the usual times that school operates.
- Time should be allocated during the day for planning, preparation and correction of student work and a reasonable level of parent interaction.
- Schools are not expected to have finalised all term two work by the end of this week – the first two weeks should be the focus.
Should you believe that the programs being developed by your school are unreasonable or are creating excessive workload, the dispute resolution process can be applied.
You should be conscious that the Code of Conduct and Standard of Practice restrictions on contact with students out-of-hours and using private devices continue. It is worth brushing up on those, and the QTU will publish further guidance before term two commences.
A number of people have raised concerns about the use of personal equipment and additional costs for, for example, internet access. You are not required to use your personal property without reimbursement. While tax concessions exist, The QTU is pursuing a policy on reimbursement.
The QTU will continue to post up-to-date information on the QTU website over the school holidays. A Newsflash will be sent to all members before the commencement of term two. .....back to top>
We have had one instance of police telling QTU members that they would not be able to travel to their home centre during the Autumn school holiday period because the Chief Health Officer’s direction about confinement applied to what they were classifying as non-essential travel.
The Premier’s office has advised that travel to teachers’ home centres will be considered as essential travel. We have raised this matter directly with the Premier, the Health Minister and the Department of Education and we are seeking an exemption for teacher’s travelling to their home centre. We will post any updates to this information directly to the QTU website. .....back to top>
Discussions continue with the department to finalise a form enabling supply teachers to access to up to 20 days of special pandemic leave. The application will be made through central office and supply teachers who are active (who have been available for work this year) and who can demonstrate a regular pattern of work are eligible to apply.
The QTU will send further details to supply teachers in a communiqué once the negotiations are finalised. .....back to top>
Although EST applications had previously been due by the end of March, the updated processes for both senior teacher and experienced senior teacher secured in EB9 are yet to be finalised by the department.
The QTU is continuing to advocate for members, and is working with the department on the information and processes. Once we receive confirmation of the new process, we will communicate this to members.
The revised senior teacher process links a person’s undertaking and personal actions plan as part of the Annual Performance Review process. The QTU has provided feedback on the process to the department. A single form will be used for the process for eligible teachers. .....back to top>
Experienced senior teacher
The new experienced senior teacher process will feature a streamlined application process, including a new form and consideration of the application by the base school principal, in the first instance. Experienced senior teacher classification will be available to any teacher with two or more years’ satisfactory service as a senior teacher or senior instrumental music teacher. .....back to top>
The department and state government are continuing to work through ongoing employment processes for casual suThe department and state government are continuing to work through ongoing employment processes for casual supply and contract employees. If you have members seeking information about these processes, you can refer them to the recently published QTU Temporary Teacher Communiqué. .....back to top>
The QTU has been advised that the 2020 guaranteed teacher transfer and rural and remote transfer application process has been delayed.
Further advice regarding the postponement of these initiatives will be distributed by the department to relevant principals, eligible teachers, regional human resource teams and other key stakeholders. .....back to top>
Due to the high volume of calls and emails our team has been receiving, particularly around COVID-19 and the operation of schools this week, we have extended the early payment date for members who pay their dues annually until this Friday.This means you will still receive the 10 per cent discount if you make your payment by Friday. .....back to top>
QTU support and operations
The QTU has transitioned to working remotely, and all our physical offices are now closed to members and visitors. QTU employees are working remotely to provide all the information and support that we can during this time, through the Queensland Teachers Assist Desk, through the QTU website and by other means.
The level of calls has been extraordinary recently (as one would expect) and we apologise for any delays in responding to calls and emails. We trust you appreciate the great work of QTU employees who are operating in similarly demanding and uncertain situations as you.
Earlier this year the QTU reached 48,000 members for the first time in its proud history. Thank you for all your conversations with potential members this year. In the past week alone we have welcomed more than 700 new members to the QTU.
A personal note from the General Secretary
I trust that you will have some opportunity to take a break during the coming school vacation. At both a personal and a professional level, it is important that you do. No extra piece of work you do will be worth the cost of becoming ill – whether through COVID-19 or something more prosaic. Best wishes.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064