Y L R A E
Vol. 1 No. 1
In this edition
The newsletter for employers in the Early Childhood Education sector
Welcome to the launch of early essentials! The Independent Education Union of Australia - Queensland and Northern Territory (IEUA-QNT) understands the significant challenges ECE employers face in adjusting to continuing sector reforms. IEUA-QNT has launched this complimentary quarterly newsletter for ECE employers to help them stay informed about evolving issues affecting the sector, and the considerations employers need to make. IEUA-QNT hopes to create a forum between employers and our union in order to bring about outcomes that are mutually beneficial for employers and staff in the ECE sector.
Welcome to early essentials!
Getting the Government’s “tick of approval”
Why you should become an “approved kindergarten provider” Under the new Queensland Kindergarten Funding Scheme (QKFS), all funded kindergarten providers must hold “approved” status from the Queensland Government.
Kindergartens that qualify to receive additional loading may receive a higher level of funding under the new formula than under “legacy” funding.
An “approved” kindergarten is also eligible to use the Queensland Government’s “tick of approval” in its marketing.
There are several criteria that need to be met in order to become an “approved kindergarten provider”.
Productivity Commission report into ECE workforce
IEUA-QNT strongly recommends that all kindergartens apply for “approved” status.
According to the Department of Education and Training’s Office for Early Childhood Education and Care, an approved kindergarten must:
IEUA-QNT requests QKFS review
Registering with a CGB is an essential step for kindergartens wishing to become “approved”.
Dealing with individual flexibility arrangements
Why all kindergartens should have a Federal Agreement
Registering with a Central Governing Body (CGB)
These organisations are intended to provide support to kindergartens as they transition to the new QKFS. The five CGBs selected by the Government are: • C&K phone: 3552 5333, email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Independent Schools Queensland phone: 3228 1515, email: email@example.com • Queensland Catholic Education Commission phone: 3336 9310, email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Queensland Lutheran Early Childhood Services phone: 3511 4079, email: email@example.com • The Gowrie (Qld) Inc phone: 3252 2667, email: jane. firstname.lastname@example.org CGBs will act to ensure that kindergartens continue to meet with the Government’s “tick of approval” conditions. Kindergartens must notify the Department of Education and Training as soon as a service agreement has been signed with a CGB.
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hold a current Queensland Licence for a Centre Based Child Care Service, under the Queensland Child Care Act 2002 hold an appropriate public liability insurance of at least $10 million demonstrate that the fee structure is not a barrier to access offer a learning program that: • is provided for children in the year prior to Prep for at least 15 hours per week and 40 weeks per year • is aligned with the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline or an education program accredited by the Queensland Studies Authority • is delivered by a qualified early childhood education teacher who meets the new criteria
Legacy funded centres yet to implement a “15 hour” program should also apply to gain “approval” status. To gain approval these centres must demonstrate that they will meet the new QKFS program duration criteria by January 2012. Becoming an “approved kindergarten provider” is mutually beneficial for management and staff. Kindergartens can apply for approval through the Department’s website at http://deta. qld.gov.au/earlychildhood.
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Productivity Commission Draft Report into ECE Workforce
The Productivity Commission has made a draft report regarding the workforces of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) sector available to the public. The recently released draft report outlines the implications of the extensive agreed Government reforms within the ECE sector.
The report highlights several important implications for employers within the ECE sector: •
The report particularly considers the current and future demands on the ECE workforce, the skills employees will require to meet new regulations, the current and future supply of the workforce, and the necessity of professional development planning.
In order to meet targets, additional ECE workers will be required
The sector has a systemic deficiency in recruiting and retaining staff
Questions are raised over the viability of the Government’s “15 hour” kindergarten scheme. The scheme outlines that a 15 hour educational program per week must be delivered within community kindergartens.
The average level of worker qualifications will need to increase
The wages of workers are expected to rise as a result of the above factors
Professional development training is essential to ensuring that ECE staff can meet with the changing qualification standards
In order to lure highly qualified employees, wages must match those of primary school teachers
It is likely to be some time before employee demand is met
The costs arising from increased staff labour will be shared by governments, but will most visibly be passed onto parents through higher fees
Government timelines for reform are potentially overambitious
Parents under financial pressure will likely reduce their children’s participation in ECE programs due to cost increases
Implementing the lengthened kindergarten program will also be complicated by the need for additional staff with higher average levels of qualification, meaning that the cost of kindergarten services will increase considerably. Workforce supply, in the short term at least, will be unable to meet with demand, and it could take some time for appropriate adjustments to be made. A key issue for the ECE sector is the recruitment and retention of staff. The report reflects that if the sector is to attract and retain its workforce, providing above-award wages is the only way to do so. The report also outlines that certain ECE providers will be unable to provide the above-award wages necessary to retain and attract qualified staff. The changing standards, including the guidelines surrounding staff qualifications and the “15 hour” model, will mean that many kindergartens will be unable to increase wages without increasing fees. The rising demand for qualified ECE workers will also mean that a large amount of training will need to be delivered in a short amount of time. This issue highlights the need for professional development programs to help ECE staff meet the new standards. The draft report is accessible via the Productivity Commission’s website at www.pc.gov.au/projects/study/education-workforce/earlychildhood/draft. The final report will be delivered in October.
What the report means for employers The report highlights just how overambitious the Government’s ECE reforms are. The current reform model will leave ECE employers unable to provide appropriate wages for their staff without significantly raising fees. With parents set to shoulder the burden of these new reforms, the Government’s goal of increasing participation in kindergarten education will likely be negated. IEUA-QNT encourages employers to question the Government’s funding allocations for community kindergartens. Please visit www.qieu.asn.au/at-work/membership-sectors/earlychildhood-employers to access a sample letter to the Queensland Minister for Education which calls for adequate funding.
IEUA-QNT Requests Review of Kindergarten Funding Scheme The IEUA-QNT has formally requested of the Queensland Government that the adequacy of funding provided by the Queensland Kindergarten Funding Scheme (QKFS) be reviewed by a working group which includes employer and employee representatives, and the various Central Governing Bodies. Funding allocations rolled out under this scheme will be essential to Queensland meeting its obligation under the National Partnership Agreement to ensure that kindergarten education is affordable. The new Government reforms present a challenging transition for ECE employers; IEUA-QNT is committed to ensuring that the reforms are in the best interest of community kindergartens.
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Dealing with individual flexibility arrangements Community Kindergartens should exercise caution when considering making individual flexibility arrangements with their employees.
if the total number of contact hours worked in a year is increased unless there is some substantial additional recompense or reward. Therefore, any proposal that would increase contact hours from 27.5 to 30 hours per week without a quantifiable benefit in return would be illegal. Similarly, a reduction in paid non-contact time without a compensating benefit is not permitted. The guidelines relating to an individual flexibility arrangement also apply to assistants who cannot have their workload increased (or conditions decreased) without adequate recompense.
Responsibility rests on the employer
The IEUA-QNT is aware that some advisors suggest using this kind of arrangement to deal with the new “15 hour” program. This involves using an averaging model whereby the additional contact hours needed for the “15 hour” program are banked to allow for blocks of non-contact time (or time off ) to be taken by the teacher. However, there are strict guidelines, set out within the Fair Work Act, regulating the use of Individual Flexibility Arrangements.
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the employee will be better off overall in relation to the employee’s terms and conditions of employment. Section 203 (4) of the Fair Work Act provides that: . “The flexibility term must require the employer to ensure that any individual flexibility arrangement agreed to under the term must result in the employee being better off overall than the employee would have been if no individual flexibility arrangement were agreed to.”
Employee must be “better off” It is a legal requirement that employees are better off under an individual flexibility arrangement than they would have been under the previously existing conditions of employment.
Uncertainty An individual flexibility arrangement will introduce a very high level of uncertainty into the operations of a kindergarten. This is because an employee can withdraw from such an arrangement simply by giving the agreed amount of notice of 28 days. Consequently, the IEUA-QNT urges kindergartens to exercise extreme caution when considering the use of individual flexibility arrangements. The fundamental issue surrounding these arrangements is the number of hours that kindergarten teachers spend teaching an educational program for the year. Logically, an employee will not be “better off”
Draft individual flexibility arrangements that meet the legal requirements can be accessed via the IEUA-QNT website at www.qieu. asn.au/at-work/membership-sectors/early-childhood-employers
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If you would like to discuss any of the issues highlighted in this edition of early essentials or make suggestions about content for future editions, please contact the IEUAQNT Brisbane office. FREECALL 1800 177 938 email: email@example.com
Why all community kindergartens should have a Federal Agreement IEUA-QNT would like to commend those community kindergarten employers who have successfully negotiated a Federal Agreement.
Advantages of a Federal Agreement:
In doing so, these employers have provided certainty regarding conditions for their staff. However, there are a small number of kindergartens yet to implement an agreement.
A Federal Agreement is the only way in which community kindergarten employers will be able to deliver the Government’s new “15 hour” educational program.
IEUA-QNT strongly recommends that kindergarten employers operating a centre that does not currently have an agreement, start taking the necessary steps to implement one.
The old state award and any preserved State Certified Agreements limit a teacher’s contact hours to 27.5 per week. Consequently it would be impossible for the one employee to deliver two programmes. For community kindergarten employers to implement the changes which come into effect in 2012, they need to negotiate a Federal Agreement with their staff. This will provide a method that is mutually beneficial for employers and staff to facilitate the implementation of the 15 hour programme. IEUA-QNT is committed to providing ECE employers with relevant information in regard to this issue to ensure that all community kindergartens can meet new requirements. Visit the ECE employer page of our website at www.qieu.asn. au/at-work/membership-sectors/early-childhood-employers to find numerous resources relating to this, and other, ECE issues. ISSN 1446-8972 early essentials was prepared by Elise Cuthbertson and John Spriggs Editor: Mr Terry Burke, Branch Secretary
Implementing a Federal Agreement is not a difficult task, and kindergartens possessing a Federal Agreement will be better off following the introduction of mandatory 15 hour programme next year.
IEUA-QNT PO BOX 418, FORTITUDE VALLEY QLD 4006 PH: (07) 3839 7020 FX: (07) 3839 7021 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.qieu.asn.au ABN: 74 662 601 045