Teachers triumph in Fair Work Commission dispute with government

Teachers triumph in Fair Work Commission dispute with government

The Victorian Department of Education will give the state’s public schools an extra $130m for their budgets over four years to resolve the school camp time in lieu ‘off duty’ dispute, it was announced today.

The decision means staff who attend a school camp overnight will now be regarded as being at least on call for eight hours and receive a payment for this time. For the remaining hours on a school camp, outside of the overnight hours and normal hours of duty, employees required to attend as part of the student supervision ratios will also accrue time in lieu for being either on call or performing duties.

The dispute began last year when the Department issued school time in lieu operational guidelines stating that teachers and education support staff required to attend school camps could be ‘off-duty’ overnight and would therefore not be eligible for the time in lieu entitlements provided for in the Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2022.

In response, the union lodged a dispute with the Victorian Department of Education in the Fair Work Commission, which it has now successfully settled.

“This important win has been achieved as a direct result of the actions of AEU members, including those who lodged local grievances, and builds on the improved entitlements achieved in the Schools Agreement last year,” Victorian Branch President, Meredith Peace, said in a statement.

“The significant new funding will reduce the pressure on schools to provide time in lieu to staff where they are required to work outside of their normal hours of duty while enabling schools to plan their camps programs with certainty.”

Decision welcomed by principals

Tina King, president of the Australian Principals’ Federation’s Victoria branch, said the unfunded time in lieu provision had placed “additional strain on restrictive school budgets.”

“Principals have been tasked with delivering the impossible and we know the richness of school experiences such as camps, have been compromised,” King told The Educator.

“The APF has been strongly campaigning for additional funding to support acquittal of hours worked beyond the 38-hour week and today’s budgetary announcement by Minister Hutchins is welcomed and will be well received by principals, school staff and the wider sector beyond education that has been adversely impacted.”

Berwick Lodge Primary School principal, Henry Grossek, said the decision is "great news" for schools.

“The Victorian Government is to be commended on backing down from their previous stand on Time in Lieu for school camps. This will save schools tens of thousands of dollars that they never should have been expected to find from their already stretched budgets,” Grossek told The Educator.

“Importantly also, it will maximise the number of children in our public schools who will now be able to participate in the rich learning experience that school camps provide.”