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Home > News > 2019 > November > Back pay win for school officer

Back pay win for school officer

Money_zoom_web_qual.pngA Queensland Catholic school officer has won back pay with the support of our union after being directed to do duties during unpaid meal breaks. 

In this case, the school officer’s roster changed to require her to provide extra administration support around certain times of the day, yet her contracted hours did not change to reflect this.

Union support secures back pay

The member initially raised this issue with their employer; however, nothing was done to resolve the matter. 

“When I questioned the change, I was told the new roster was correct and I was not entitled to anything further,” the member said. 

“I approached our union and asked them to have a look at my case, as I felt that I was continually getting brushed off by my employer. 

“Our union offered great support and worked with me to firstly look at my case, offer advice and follow through on my behalf with my employer. 

“As an individual I wasn’t getting heard but as soon as our union acted on my behalf, things started to happen.

“The process involved several meetings between my employer and our union on my behalf. 

“Our union would always contact me after any of these meetings and offer advice.

"It was great to be informed and supported throughout the process until a favourable outcome was achieved,” the member said.

As a result of this process, the school officer received significant back pay.

“If you think that something isn’t right, speak up straight away and if you are not comfortable with the answer, contact our union immediately for advice,” the member said.

Clear provisions in collective agreement  

In the Catholic sector, the relevant collective agreement states school officers and services staff have clear meal breaks and rest pauses during the working day. 

Unpaid meal breaks occur where an employee works more than four consecutive hours in any one day, and are no less than 30 minutes and no more than one (1) hour. 

In addition, full-time school officers and services staff should receive one rest pause of 10 minutes during the first half and the second half of each day worked and these rest pauses are paid. 

Rest pauses may also be combined where there is an agreement between the employer and employees. 

Employers cannot direct an employee to carry out duties during rest pauses and meal breaks. 

What records to keep

If there is a discrepancy in your hours of work, break times and/or pay, our union can help calculate any such discrepancy and help you rectify the issue. 

IEUA-QNT Industrial Services Officer Melanie Stellmacher said our union can help claim back underpayments as far back as six years where there is sufficient evidence of an underpayment.

“We were able to secure a significant back pay for the school officer by tracking down records of timetabled duties and cross checking these against pay slips,” Melanie said. 

“This is a good example of why members should keep records of directed duties, timetables and payslips.”

Members should always keep the following documents:

  • Contract of employment (or letter of employment) outlining, amongst other things, ordinary hours of work and any other conditions that may have been agreed;
  • Each timetable outlining directed duties, scheduled meal breaks and rest pauses for the school year (this may change multiple times a year);
  • Any correspondence or documents confirming the directed duties that occur during scheduled meal breaks and rest pauses; and
  • Payslips from the period in question. 

Please contact our union on FREECALL 1800 177 937 or via industrial@qieu.asn.au if you have been directed to do duties in your meal breaks or rest pauses, or outside your ordinary hours of work. 


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.