Returning to full-time need not be full-on
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 7, 27 September 2019, page no. 16
Many teachers and administrators access periods of flexible or part-time work during their career. Yet when they seek to return to full-time, many are provided with confusing information (at a school or regional level) and contact the QTU distressed when they are left with the perception that “they no longer have a full-time position”.
Confusion often arises when:
- they transferred as a part-time teacher and the current school only sees them as “part-time”
- there have been changes in the administration team at the school
- they are told that “they moved to part-time permanently” and no longer have a right to return to full-time
- they are told they need to wait until day 8 of the following year to see if their return to full-time can be accommodated.
- they are informed that they need to compete a transfer form.
However, where an employee was previously full-time and accessed part-time conditions on return from parental leave (the department considers this to be “part-time”) or they accessed part-time for their health, care commitments or other reasons (the department considers this to be “flexible work arrangements”), the capacity to return to their full-time substantive position remains.
Historically, the parental leave and care provisions were managed under the Queensland Family Leave Award, and other applications were managed under the Teachers’ Award. Applicants were asked to tick a relevant box on the application form, and it was deemed to be a “permanent” arrangement if the Teachers’ Award box was ticked. As you can imagine, confusion and error reigned supreme. This continues to be an issue for many teachers.
With the award modernisation process in 2016 and the introduction of Queensland’s Industrial Relations Act (2016), the Family Leave Award ceased to exist. The department’s new policies (part-time and flexible work practices) all include an annual review process of part-time arrangements, so the notion of a permanent arrangement is nonsensical (the exception being when the initial permanent employment is at a part-time fraction, but then there remains the capacity to apply to increase the fraction).
The capacity and process for returning to a substantive full-time position is set out in the Teaching in State Education Award – State (2016) in section 8 (https://www.qirc.qld.gov.au/sites/default/files/teaching_state_ed_010918_0.pdf?v=1542521408).
"(A) Teachers, heads of program, school leaders, community teachers or assistant teachers employed part-time who were formerly employed full-time are guaranteed return to full-time status at the earliest available opportunity or at the latest from the commencement of the next school year, provided that application is made by the closing date for the normal transfer cycle.
(B) Discretion may be exercised to waive the notice requirement stated in clause 8.2.1(e)(i)(A) in emergent or compassionate circumstances. "
If you wish to return to full-time, you should ensure that your request is made in writing, ideally before the close of the transfer cycle. An email is sufficient. Unless a transfer is sought, there is NO requirement to complete a transfer form or apply for a transfer. Where there are personal or exceptional circumstances including financial hardship associated with the request, information should accompany the request.
The timetabling and staffing of permanent teachers are to take precedence over temporary employees, and responses that include “waiting until day 8 to see if we can accommodate” should be refuted and referred to the QTU for assistance.
It is truly distressing to learn of teachers who have been desperately seeking to return to full-time teaching for years, only to be told this is not possible. Clearly this has a financial (immediate and long term) impact on the individuals and contributes to the gender pay gap, given that most employees seeking part-time are women with care arrangements.