Should I be paid for this?
Our union often fields queries from school officers and support staff regarding duties or attendance at meetings outside their ordinary hours of work, and whether these need to be paid.
School officers and support staff have clear provisions outlining their hours of work in most collective agreements, for example Provision 8.5 Hours of Work – School Officers in the current Queensland Catholic Schools Collective Agreement.
Ordinary hours of work
A collective agreement will outline the maximum hours of work, which for most in our sector is 38 hours per week, to be worked (continuously) between 7:00am and 6:00pm on Mondays to Fridays (inclusive).
The normal starting and finishing times for an employee should be established at the point of their engagement in a school unless otherwise stated in the collective agreement.
For example, a school officer in a Queensland Catholic school might be employed to work from 9:00am-4:30pm, Monday to Friday.
This is 37.5 hours per week.
Directed work outside of ordinary hours of work
Any additional hours of work, duties or attendance at meetings which occur outside of ordinary hours of work and are directed by the employer should be paid.
The key to ensuring employers uphold the provision within a collective agreement is asking for written confirmation of the direction or requirement prior to its occurrence.
For example, if a school officer is notified of a meeting outside of their ordinary hours of work, they need to ascertain whether their attendance at the meeting is voluntary or directed.
A good way to confirm this is by confirming with the principal via email.
For example, “Dear [X], I have been told about the meeting occurring at [time/date]. I just want to confirm if this meeting is voluntary or required. If it is required, I understand that this meeting will be paid, and I would like to confirm how this will occur. Could you please let me know?”
If voluntary, school officers can (politely) decline to attend.
However, if you are paid for more hours than necessary to carry out your usual duties in a typical week and that excess time would be sufficient to cover the time required for the meeting, your employer may apply any unused portion of your ordinary paid hours of work to cover the meeting without the need to provide additional payment.
For example, the same Queensland Catholic school officer is rostered on for 37.5 hours per week but is paid 38 hours per week and is required to attend a 30-minute meeting after their ordinary hours.
The employer would not need to provide additional payment for attending this meeting.
Members should also be aware of when they are eligible for overtime rates – this varies and can be found in the relevant collective agreement.
Tracey* has been an IEUA-QNT member for three years and is a school officer at a Queensland Catholic school.
She is currently not being paid for any employer directed meetings, including staff meetings and parent meetings.
“We are also expected to attend awards nights after hours which are unpaid as well as professional development days which include travel time outside our timetabled hours,” Tracey said.
“I believe that it is important to pay school officers and other support staff for attending employer directed meetings as they are work-related and are outside of our timetabled hours.
“Our time is also important as quite often we have children and our family that we need to consider and manage when we are expected to attend these meetings or other events.”
Tracey said she believes it is important to be a member of our union as it is a platform for school officers to have a voice and be supported when it comes to their rights at work.
IEUA-QNT School Chapters and Consultative Committees are a good way to draw attention to this issue at a school level.
Collectively, members can raise the issue with the employer and seek agreements for school officers to be paid for duties and meetings.
As an IEUA-QNT member, our union can advise whether certain duties should have been paid and help calculate discrepancies in pay.
Contact our union on firstname.lastname@example.org or FREECALL 1800 177 937.
*Name has been changed.
What records should I keep?
Having copies of the following documents make it easier for our union’s industrial officers to check for discrepancies in Hours of Work and or/pay:
- Contract outlining ordinary Hours of Work;
- Timetables outlining rostered duties (keep copies of each timetable through the year);
- Payslips for the period in question; and
- Written record from the employer outlining directed duties to be performed outside of ordinary working hours.