NEWSLETTER SUPPLEMENT TO THE AEU NEWS • MAY 2009
ES numbers count
A strong ES membership delivered a good agreement but we can do better still. Members can help build strength in numbers — and there might even be a reward in it for you.
Mary Bluett branch president
EU Education Support membership has increased by over 1000 this year. This is great news. It reflects the recognition by members of the achievements we have made in this ES Agreement but also your determination to strengthen the voice of ES members in your union. In addition, it sends a strong message to the Education Department and the Victorian Government that ES members are increasingly a force to be reckoned with. I am excited by this increased membership and the consequent increase in ES representation in our union structures. You know how committed the AEU is to advancing the interests of ES members. As our membership grows, so does our strength. While our agreement has led to a significant boost
New dimensions of work are proving a useful tool for getting the pay you deserve. Kathryn Lewis ES organiser
HE AEU has been overwhelmed by ES members, sub-branches and principals asking for more information on range review and the new dimensions of work. Our Membership Services Unit can help members assess the work value of their roles against the new work dimensions set out in the new ES Agreement. ES staff have waited a long time for updated work dimensions which accurately describe their work. The
in membership, we are determined to build our ES voice still further. To this end, the AEU leadership has launched another major ES recruitment campaign (see back page). Throughout Term 2, we are conducting a “recruit a member” competition. Each AEU member who recruits an ES member goes into a prize draw for a $1000 gift voucher. ES members are in a particularly strong position to recruit colleagues — you know them, you know their issues and you know our union’s determination to support and advance their interests. Go to it!
The AEU budget provides significant funds to run professional and industrial programs for AEU members. I encourage you to take the opportunity to access these programs which provide schools with replacement costs to enable your participation — see www.aeuvic.asn.au/training. Programs are regularly added, so keep checking for the latest.
Professional development As well as advancing the industrial interests of AEU members, we also offer professional support.
Be proud! As the economic downturn diminishes wages claims, we can be proud of an agreement which delivers salary increases well above inflation, increased security of employment and further increases through reclassification. Be proud of your achievements — and recruit a friend, or two, or three. ◆
new descriptions are proving a useful tool for classifying the roles of ES staff. They are unambiguous, and principals and ES members alike have been able to clearly recognise where certain responsibilities fit into the five ranges of the ES structure. For example ES Level 1 Range 1 (ES 1-1) is a routine position which requires close supervision and guidance, with little deviation from routine tasks. So typically an ES 1-1 would work under direction in a classroom setting with students or teachers. An ES 1-2 would provide support beyond the routine. They might help teachers to co-ordinate a support function, such as organising the work of other support staff, or provide a specialist support role, or liaise with teachers to co-ordinate a program. It is important that schools consider the impact the new dimensions have on current roles and job descriptions — some may now need to be reassessed. It is pleasing to report that many principals have been proactive in reviewing ES roles to ensure they are correctly classified, and are promoting staff when necessary.
Sub-branches too are seeking a better understanding of the ES work dimensions and asking for reviews through the school consultation processes. If schools have not yet considered the implications of the new dimensions we encourage ES members to initiate discussions with the sub-branch. Individual ES members can also seek a review of their roles if they are unsure of their classification. If your role is reviewed and found to be correct then you can rest assured you are classified correctly. However if it is identified that you are working above your range, the principal may either grant the range review or remove the tasks that fall under the higher range. The direct approach of putting in a written range review request using our pro forma letter, backed up by the AEU’s Work Value Assessment Table, is a good strategy. If you would like further advice please contact the MSU on (03) 9417 2822. ◆
A E U h e a d o f f i c e 112 Trenerr y Crescent, Abbotsford 3067 Tel: 03 9417 2822 Fax : 1300 658 078 Web : www.ae u v i c . a s n . a u
Is your school paying out allowances for first aid and other caring duties? The ES Agreement reinforces the rules on allowances — but not all schools are playing fair. Kathryn Lewis ES organiser
RE you receiving a first aid allowance? Many ES members are entitled to receive this payment, but the AEU is concerned at the number of schools that are failing to pass it on. All ES staff with first aid responsibilities should be paid an allowance of $515 per year (or pro rata). But a number of schools do not pay this allowance — which amounts to only a dollar a day. Even though the first aid allowance was available in the previous agreement, and remains part of our new ES deal, many schools have received inaccurate advice. They believed that only one person per school was entitled to receive the allowance. But the fact is, any and all ES undertaking first aid duties should receive the payment. The AEU’s new ES Agreement Implementation Guide highlights the issue and has prompted many schools to change their long-standing practice. We
Intensive care E
S STAFF in special schools are entitled to an intensive care allowance of $308 per year. The allowance should be paid to employees who are required to provide personal attendant care, administer medical support or help individual students or groups of students to develop independent living skills. However, some members have reported that they are not receiving the allowance. Please call the AEU’s membership services unit on (03) 9417 2822 if you work in a special school and are not receiving the allowance. ◆
hope that recent updates on the Education Department’s HR Web pages will also assist in clearing up confusion. The policy states: First Aid Allowance A full-time education support class employee who holds an appropriate first aid qualification and performs first aid duties in addition to their normal duties and first aid is not the primary responsibility of his or her position is entitled to payment of a first aid allowance, as follows: A part-time employee eligible for the first aid allowance receives payment on a pro rata basis relative to a full-time employee. The performance of first aid duties, in addition to normal duties, is subject to agreement between the principal and employee. It is clear from the agreement and from this policy that first aid is a duty that can only be taken on upon agreement between ES employees and the principal. It also states that first aid is in addition to normal duties, unless it is the ES employee’s primary responsibility. This should be interpreted as follows: 1. If an ES is employed as an integration aide, then integration is their primary responsibility and their normal duties will therefore consist of assisting students and teachers in the delivery of the integration program. When an integration ES agrees to do first aid duties, it is in addition to their normal duties, because integration duties do not normally include first aid. The same reasoning applies to administrative staff, lab technicians, library assistants and other positions. 2. If the primary responsibility of an ES officer is first aid, then the employee is not entitled to the allowance. However, if first aid constitutes the principal responsibility of a position it may well indi-
cate a level of accountability that goes beyond the routine support provided at ES 1 Range 1 — and a range review might be in order. Some schools believe that if first aid duties are written into a Range 1 position, the employee does not have to be paid the allowance. Trying to dodge responsibility for paying the allowance is unreasonable in our view. We all understand that school budgets are insufficient — but there is no excuse for denying the lowest paid members of staff an allowance to which they are entitled. Furthermore, writing first aid duties into the job description is wrong for the following reasons. First, Clause 16(5)(b) states that taking on first aid duties is subject to agreement between the employer and employee — so it cannot be added to a job description because the employee cannot be compelled to do first aid and may disagree at any time. Secondly, clause 16(5)(a) states that an ES employees shall be paid the allowance unless first aid constitutes the principal responsibility of the position. Clearly, if first aid is added to a job description it cannot be the principal responsibility. When job descriptions are developed or rewritten it is important to establish the primary role of the position. During negotiations for this agreement, the Education Department was keen to remove all allowances, seeing them as expensive and unnecessary. The unions successfully fought off this attempt. But reluctance remains around paying allowances and we encourage members and sub-branches to take up the issue through their consultative processes and if unsuccessful, consider using the grievance process to resolve the issue. We need to ensure that staff receive their allowances or we may lose them! ◆
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ES newsletter | may 2009
A heads up is not enough Consultation means more than being told what’s about to happen. Justin Mullaly deputy vice president, secondary sector
OES your school have a formal consultation process for education support staff? Does it enable ES staff to have their say about decisions that affect working arrangements at the school? Now is the time to evaluate your consultation structures and think about ways to improve them. Like the last agreement, the new ES agreement places the consultation committee and process at the centre of all significant decisions in your school. ES staff are entitled to the same level of consultation as their teacher colleagues — and as with teachers, consultation is required to be a formal
process that provides an opportunity to influence decisions about the long-term planning and operation of the school, including: • Workforce plans • Organisation of work, including time in lieu • Recall • Composition of selection and other panels. For correct consultation to take place, as outlined in the agreement, the views of ES staff must be canvassed before decisions are made. It is not good enough for ES staff to be simply told what is about to happen. Decisions about consultation arrangements are made locally and differ from school to school — some elect to have separate consultation for ES
staff and teachers. While this can work well, the AEU often advises ES members and sub-branches that combining ES and teacher consultation can lead to better processes and outcomes. Term 3 is a key time for developing your school’s consultation arrangements — keep an eye out for more advice about developing quality consultation in the coming months and remember that by September 1 your principal is required to inform the Education Department that arrangements have been agreed at your school. If you would like some help improving consultation at your school don’t hesitate to contact our Membership Services Unit on (03) 9417 2822 or call your organiser. ◆
Support and supervision
What duties can Education Support staff be expected to perform? The clue is in the name. Carolyn Clancy deputy vice president, primary sector
he new Dimensions of Work for Education Support employees have made assessing roles to ensure positions are correctly defined and classified much easier and clearer. They also clarify areas which are sometimes blurred between the work of a teacher and the work of ES staff. One area in particular that required greater clarification and strengthening was around ES roles and responsibilities for the supervision of students. Statements covering “student supervision” can be found in Schedule 3 of the ES Agreement, in the Dimensions of Work. They have been repeated in the general description of each class and salary range level. The agreement says simply: Supervision of students cannot be required except where it is an integral part of the employee’s position or involves supervision of students individually or in small groups, in controlled circumstances, where the responsibility for students remains clearly with a teacher. The inclusion of the reference to supervising students in “controlled circumstances” as well as the acknowledgement that “responsibility for students (will) remain with the teacher” may require
schools to assess existing arrangements. Schools need to consider the impact of this on the roles they have assigned to their ES staff. AEU sub-branches in particular should discuss these changes and make recommendations to their consultative committee if changes are needed. Duties of a teacher The agreement also refers for the first time to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic). It reinforces ES roles, saying they should “support teachers in the delivery of education services with students, but must not perform the duties of a teacher”. Under the Education Act, any person not registered to teach or without permission to teach must not undertake the duties of a teacher. The Act outlines penalties for committing such offences under this clause. It is important to note that a penalty can be imposed both on the individual and on the person or body who employs the unregistered teacher to teach in a school. This leads to two important questions: What are the duties of a teacher? And what does this mean for the role of ES employees? The Act refers to a teacher as “a person who, in a school, undertakes duties that include the delivery
of an educational program or the assessment of student participation in an educational program” (Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) Part 2.6). But a clearer definition can be found in a variety of Australian court decisions which have described duties that teachers would be expected to perform. They include providing a course of instruction to students, assessing students regularly and fairly and recording each student’s progress, and diagnosing an individual student’s ability and providing an appropriate course of instruction. This means ES employees cannot be responsible for delivering an educational program nor should they be responsible for assessing a student participating in an educational program. The most important word to remember when reviewing the role of ES staff is in the description of ES work, and that is they are to “support” the education services. Schools need to discuss the roles and responsibilities of ES positions in relation to the work dimensions and not place their ES staff in a precarious position that could be in breach of the law under the Education Act. If you would like to discuss these issues further please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org ◆
Recruit and win! O
VER 1000 education support workers joined the AEU during the recent agreement campaign — but strength lies in numbers and the AEU is determined to build on these gains. That’s why the union is launching its ES Numbers Count recruitment campaign with the prize of a $1000 Coles Myer gift voucher for one lucky member who signs up a new recruit to the AEU. Many ES employees are seeing for the first time the benefits of being in the AEU. Much of the gains in the new Agreement came through the collective muscle of the union that could call on over 30,000 teachers alongside ES members as the united voice of education employees. Numbers will continue to count as we work to realise the entitlements in the agreement in every school. How it works Every sub-branch has been sent a poster and a sheet of stickers. When you sign up a new ES member, simply write your name, school and contact details on the sticker, place it on the new recruit’s application form (please don’t cover any vital information) and return it to the AEU. Closing date for entries is June 26. The stickers will be placed in a draw early in Term 3 to win a $1000 gift voucher at Coles Myer. This competition is open only to financial AEU members. For further information please contact Julie.email@example.com. ◆
Contract to Rally for paid ongoing maternity leave T
HE AEU’s recently updated Contract to Ongoing flyer has been sent to all schools. It looks very similar to a flyer sub-branches received last year — however it now includes the entitlements won in the new ES Agreement. ES members now have the same entitlements to ongoing employment as teachers. We hope this flyer, which is also available on our website, is a useful tool for members and sub-branches to work towards more secure and ongoing employment for all staff. You can download the flyer at www.aeuvic. asn.au/campaigns/education_support. ◆
ictorian Trades Hall Women’s Committee will hold a rally of all unions at Lindsay Tanner MP’s office at 280 King Street in Melbourne on May 6. (Please note, Trades Hall and the AEU are not asking members to stopwork for this event.) The event will urge the Labor Government to honour its promises and include paid maternity leave in its federal budget on May 12. Lindsay Tanner is Finance Minister in the Rudd Cabinet. The rally at 10am will deliver campaign postcards pressing the case for Australia to fall in line with the rest of the world. Only Australia and the US in the OECD do not have some form of PML. Trades Hall women’s officer Jennifer O’DonnellPirisi has invited AEU members who are not working and can attend to join in sending a clear message that unions want paid maternity leave included in the 2009 budget. Please bring your flags and voices! For more information call (03) 9659 3511 or email jo’firstname.lastname@example.org. ◆
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ES newsletter | may 2009