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Home > News > 2020 > May > No excuse for stand downs as students return to school

No excuse for stand downs as students return to school

Topics : COVID-19School Officers

school_officer_and_students_-_crop.jpgNon-government school employers have no justification for continued or further stand downs of school staff, as students begin a phased return to on-site schooling.

IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes said it was disappointing some schools had stood down support staff while students were engaged in remote learning.

“With students beginning to return to classrooms from next week, any employees who were previously stood down should be returned to paid duties,” Brad said.

“There can also be no justification for any further stand downs of school officers, services staff or other school staff,” Brad said.

Brad said our union is pursuing employers who have stood down staff, reminding them of the legislative requirements to enact stand downs – including a demonstrable stoppage of work and the inability of an employee to undertake alternate duties or redeployment.

“With students returning to school amid this unprecedented pandemic, there is plenty of work to do – particularly to ensure hygiene standards and safety measures for staff and students,” Brad said.

Examples of additional work tasks and redeployment opportunities include:

  • Supervision of students who are undertaking remote learning on the school site.
  • Supervision of classroom-based students during breaks and before/after school.
  • Maintenance of student equipment, school facilities and grounds.
  • Increased scope and frequency of school cleaning.
  • Implementation and oversight of revised safety measures such as the provision of hand sanitiser, hand washing facilities, hygiene measures etc. 
  • Supervision and management of school drop off areas and other areas where parents may congregate in and around the school.

Chapter action to end unpaid stand downs

IEU Chapters in schools where stand downs have occurred will be asked to take action to ensure their colleagues are returned to paid duties as soon as possible.

“Chapters will consider motions calling on employers to reinstate all employees,” Brad said.

“Not only is this essential to the livelihoods of those members, but their return to work is also central to ensuring safety and hygiene standards are maintained as students return to school.”

Brad said our union is aware that some schools have already confirmed the reinstatement, from Monday, of staff who had been stood down.

“We welcome these reinstatements and urge all employers who are yet to reinstate their staff to follow the lead shown by these schools.

“We must ensure no support staff are left behind and these unpaid stand downs end now,” Brad said.

Casual relief teachers to support transition

Schools should also re-engage casual relief teachers to help mitigate the transition to on-site schooling for students. 

Even though the transition will be phased, support from additional trained teachers will be essential to supporting classroom teachers manage workload. 

This is particularly pertinent to schools who decided to support vulnerable at-home students as classrom teachers should not be expected to deliver duplicate online and face-to-face teaching. 

Casual relief teachers can help facilitate the delivery of the two modes of learning as well as provide additional release time for teachers who may need to rework learning materials created for online delivery. 

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