Offer for a new Teachers and Assistant Teachers Enterprise Agreement

Background/Purpose

This information sheet sets out the full terms of an overall improved offer for a replacement Teachers and Assistant Teachers’ Enterprise Agreement (EA). Negotiations commenced on 25 June 2021.

This offer takes into account the Australian Education Union’s (AEU) bargaining issues and claims. It reflects the progress made during the negotiations.

The offer is consistent with the NT Public Sector Wages Policy 2021-2024 and the NTPS Bargaining Policy 2021-2024, and the terms comprise a complete package of improvements and changes to terms and conditions of employment.

These additional improvements will ensure that the EA is one of the most family supportive public sector agreements in the nation. It will provide employees with greater certainty regarding their employment conditions over the next 4 years.

Proposals

  1. Term of the Agreement

    The Agreement will have a term of 4 years.

  2. Coverage

    The Agreement will cover non-contract principals whose terms and conditions of service are regulated by Determination 1025 of 2021; teachers (including senior teachers); and assistant teachers.

  3. Lump sum payment

    There would be a $4,000 lump sum payment after the EA is voted up. For the following three years (i.e., 2022, 2023 and 2024), employees would receive lump sum payments of $2,000 on the first pay day on or after 11 October.

    The lump sum payment would be available to employees who are on leave without pay for a period of less than 4 weeks at the date that payment is made under the Agreement. This would include those employees who are on paid and unpaid parental or personal leave.

    Employees would receive $10,000 over 4 years.

    Employer superannuation guarantee is applicable to the lump sum payment. However, due to the rules of the defined benefit schemes, employer superannuation guarantee is not applicable to the lump sum paid to NTGPASS and CSS members.

    To be eligible for the lump sum payment, employees must be employed on the date the payment is to be made as set out in the Agreement. The lump sum will be payable to employees who are on unpaid parental leave, unpaid personal leave or other leave without pay that is for a period of less than 4 weeks. Part time employees will be eligible for the full lump sum payment (i.e. not pro-rata)

    Casual employees will be eligible for the lump sum payment if, within three months prior to the payment date they have: been paid for work; or performed duty, which is due to be paid after the date of the lump sum payment.

    Employees on multiple employment contracts (consistent with section 38A of the PSEM Act) will only be eligible for a single lump sum payment on each occasion in relation to the performance of work in classifications in the Agreement under all contracts of employment.

  4. Continue to increase allowances by the Darwin consumer price index (CPI)

    The Agreement would continue CPI indexation of existing allowances in Determination 1 of 2021 that are adjusted by the September to September Darwin CPI. These allowances will not reduce if the Darwin CPI is negative.

  5. Changes to the Northern Territory Government Wages Policy during the term of the Agreement

    The Commissioner for Public Employment will pass on changes to the Northern Territory Government Wages Policy that provide additional benefits above those contained in this offer (such as an increase to salaries above the value of the lump sum payment at item 3 above) if they occur during the term of the Agreement. This would be managed through a determination under the Public Sector Employment and Management Act 1993 (‘the PSEM Act’).

  6. No reduction in current or future rights and entitlements

    The Agreement would include a clause that there will be no reduction in current or future employee rights and entitlements as provided in the By-laws and Determination, including provision of allowances and leave arrangements for the term of the Agreement.

    A new sub-clause will also be included providing that the Commissioner undertakes that for the term of this Agreement, general employment conditions specified in the PSEM By-laws and Determinations will not be varied without consultation and agreement with the affected parties prior to the formalisation of an amendment.

  7. No involuntary redundancies for the term of the Agreement

    There will be no involuntary redundancies (notice of redundancy) for the term of the Agreement. This would not apply to an employee who has been declared potentially surplus to requirements under section 41 of the PSEM Act, and who have been listed on the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment redeployment database for longer than 2 years.

  8. Incorporate Public Sector Employment Management By-law leave entitlements in the Agreement

    The following By-law leave entitlements will be incorporated into the Agreement

    • Defence service leave (By-law 14)
    • Emergency leave (By-law 15)
    • Leave without pay (By-law 16)
    • Leave to attend arbitration business (By-law 17)
    • Miscellaneous leave (By-law 18)
    • Release for jury service (By-law 20)
    • Release to attend as a witness (By-law 21)

    Note the current Agreement signposts release for jury service; release to attend as a witness: and emergency leave the Agreement will incorporate the text of those by-laws.

    Further, the miscellaneous leave (By-law 18) entitlements will be set out in separate clauses, namely: blood donation leave, and leave to engage in voluntary emergency management activities.

    The miscellaneous leave to engage in voluntary emergency management activities will be updated to reflect current legislation. It will be improved to include paid leave for reasonable rest time immediately following the employee’s participation in the emergency management activity.

  9. Improved leave for disabilities caused by war service (war service leave)

    The existing entitlements, reference in the current personal leave provisions, but set out in Determination 6 of 2011, would be improved and included in the Agreement to support a comprehensive agreement. The improvement will enable eligible employees to access their accrued war service leave (i.e., leave granted and accrued in relation to their original disability) for a further condition recognised as caused by war sometime after the recognition of the original disability (e.g., PTSD). Leave is currently only available in relation to the original disability.

  10. NAIDOC march and approved activities

    Paid NAIDOC leave would be available (up to 3 hours) to attend the NAIDOC march and NAIDOC week activities. Paid leave will be approved where flexitime or time off in lieu are not otherwise available.

  11. Foster and kinship carer’s leave

    Foster carer and kinship carer leave that is set out in Determination 7 of 2020, would be included in the Agreement to support a comprehensive agreement and the entitlements would be improved to provide 2 days paid leave (currently unpaid) to attend permanent care order interviews.

  12. Kinship obligation leave – 5 days paid leave for sorry business

    The Australian First Nation’s definition of kinship will be included in the Agreement for the purpose of providing up to 5 days paid leave per annum to attend sorry business or related purposes. That definition is:

    Australian First Nations kinship where there is a connection, relationship or obligation under the customs, traditions or cultures of the communities, groups or families to which the employee belongs.

    The definition was developed by an extensive consultation process involving key Aboriginal NTPS representatives.

    The 5 days will be in addition to compassionate leave. The leave may be taken in broken periods. It can also be taken at half pay.

    The 5 days do not accrue. They are not cumulative.

  13. Cultural and ceremonial leave

    The entitlement to 5 days unpaid cultural and ceremonial leave in the current Agreement will be improved to give the CEO the discretion to approve additional unpaid cultural and ceremonial leave, on request.

  14. Gender transition leave

    Gender transition leave would be available to support employees who are transitioning their gender. Employees (excluding casuals) with at least 12 months service and who have commenced transitioning their gender would be entitled to up to 12 months leave, inclusive of 4 weeks paid and 48 weeks unpaid. Additional paid leave may be granted by the CEO on a case-by-case basis.

  15. Leave to engage in voluntary emergency management activities

    There would be a new clause that transfers miscellaneous leave (By-law 18) in relation to volunteering for emergency management activities into the Agreement. The existing By-law provision will be updated to reflect current legislation and improved to include paid leave for reasonable rest time immediately following the employee’s participation in the emergency management activity.

  16. Improved compassionate leave

    There would be a number of improvements to compassionate leave as follows:

    1. Three days increased to 5 days on the death or serious threat to life of the employee’s immediate family or household member, which will now include stillbirths (refers to cl 42.4(a) of the current Agreement);
    2. NEW – 3 days paid compassionate leave on the death of the employee’s (excluding casuals) extended family member. These are relatives not covered under ‘immediate family or household member’. ‘Extended family member’ would be defined in the Agreement as meaning:
      • a spouse of the employee’s child (e.g., son-in-law)
      • a spouse of the employee’s sibling (e.g., sister-in-law)
      • an aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or first cousin of the employee.
    3. NEW – 3 days paid leave if the employee or their partner experiences a miscarriage. The employee must provide a medical certificate from a medical practitioner stating that the employee’s pregnancy or the partner’s pregnancy has ended. Leave in unpaid for casual employees.
  17. Health screening leave – doubles existing entitlement

    Currently 1 hour paid leave is available every 2 years for cancer screening under miscellaneous leave (By-law 18). The Agreement would replace this entitlement with a new ’health screening leave’ that enables employees to access up to 1 hour of paid leave per year for the purpose of undertaking a health screening test associated with a public health screening program. A ‘health screening test’ means a diagnostic procedure or medical appointment undertaken to screen for cancer or mental health conditions. If an employee undertakes screening for cancer and mental health in the same year, the maximum entitlement is 1 hour of paid leave.

  18. Improved – flexible lifestyle (purchased leave) leave

    The purchase of additional leave (‘purchased leave’) in Schedule 6, item 6.3 of the current Agreement would be re-named ‘flexible lifestyle (purchased) leave’ and enhanced to allow employees to request up to 8 weeks additional leave (currently a maximum of 6 weeks) per year and to take the leave in blocks of 2 days (currently 1 week minimum).

    This scheme enables employees to purchase more leave, through salary deductions, to be taken in the year it is purchased. Conditions will apply, including the requirement for employees to provide a written plan outlining how they intend to utilise the leave and the purchase must not result in an excess recreation leave balance.

  19. Parental leave improvements
    1. Employer superannuation contributions (SG) paid during parental leaveNEW – Recognising the support parents need at the time of the birth/placement of their child, a new provision to pay SG during paid and unpaid partner leave during the first 12 months as if the employee had been at work. Employees will be eligible if their spouse is also an NTPS employee. (Note: employees taking primary caregiver leave already have this entitlement).
      NEW – Recognising that women’s superannuation earning capacity may reduce when on parental leave, to pay SG at double the legislated rate during a period of paid primary caregiver leave (includes special maternity leave (stillbirth)). Should the employee elect to take any paid parental leave at half pay, the double superannuation contributions will only be paid for a period that is equivalent to utilising the paid parental leave at full pay.
    2. Expanded definition of ‘continuous service

      To support employment mobility between different agencies with the broader Northern Territory Government context, the definition of ‘continuous service’ in the parental leave provisions would be expanded to recognise prior service with an Agency for the purposes of the Financial Management Act 1995 (e.g., the Northern Territory Police Force, Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority). This change would enable more employees to access paid parental leave entitlements or provide increased paid parental leave (e.g., with prior service recognised an employee could achieve 5 or more years service and be eligible for 18 weeks paid leave). Similar changes would be made to the definition of an ‘NTPS employee couple’ to enable Northern Territory Government employees to combine their paid parental leave entitlements.

    3. Improved – returning from parental leave

      Full-time employees returning from parental leave currently have a right ‘to request’ to convert to part-time employment on a temporary or permanent basis. Where the employee wishes to do so, the Agreement would provide a right to return on a part-time basis for up to 6 months. The provision will provide that the employee can return to the same job/duties or alternative duties. If ‘alternative duties’ required to accommodate part-time work were at a lower rate of pay/classification, the employee would be paid at their nominal rate of pay for their part time work. This would mean that should accommodation of a request for part time work for a Senior Teacher be only available at the Classroom Teacher level, the employee would be paid at the part-time rate as a Senior Teacher. An employee may ask the CEO to approve a longer period of part-time work.

    4. NEW – pre-natal leave

      An employee, whose partner is pregnant, or a pregnant employee will be able to access up to 8 hours paid leave to attend pre-natal appointments. Casual employees will have access to unpaid leave. Currently employees use personal or other leave or flextime to accommodate these appointments.

    5. Improved – pre-adoption leave

      The Agreement would improve the existing entitlement for employees to enable up to 2 days paid leave (currently unpaid) to attend interviews or examinations required in order to obtain approval for the employee’s adoption of a child. Casual employees will be eligible for up to 2 days unpaid leave as per the current conditions.

  20. Domestic, family and sexual violence provisions

    The existing domestic and family violence provisions in clause 44 of the current Agreement would be expanded to include circumstances where employees have experienced sexual violence in either a domestic, non-domestic, or family situation. The Agreement would include the paid leave entitlements of By-law 18. This would support a comprehensive agreement. The CEO would retain the ability to approve uncapped paid leave for these purposes.

  21. Emergency leave

    The current By-law 15 emergency leave entitlement would be included in the Agreement, without reduction. It would also contain a definition of what constitutes an emergency to support greater consistency in its application.

  22. Provision for a right to request for casual employees and the employer’s obligation to offer conversion to non-contract employment

    To assist casual employees and the Agency to be aware of the casual conversion rights and obligations in the national employment standards of the Fair Work Act 2009, and the Northern Territory Public Sector Enterprise Award 2016, the Agreement would contain a signpost clause to the relevant legislation under the relief teacher provisions in clause 65 of the current Agreement.

  23. Electricity subsidy – remote localities

    Under the current Agreement, employees in Borroloola receive an electricity subsidy in line with the subsidy that is generally available to NTPS employees in remote localities. This entitlement is not available to other employees in remote localities.

    The Agreement will extend the entitlement to all employees residing in departmentally supplied accommodation in remote localities. Where feasible it will be available to employees from the operative date of the Agreement (i.e., 7 days after the Fair Work Commission approves the Agreement). In other cases, where there are circumstances in which employees currently have no liability for their electricity, the Department of Education will phase the subsidy over the first year of the Agreement’s operation.

  24. Alignment of professional development days

    The Agreement would align professional development days for teachers – in addition to the professional development day prior to the commencement of the school year. This means that there would be professional development days on the first day of the second, third and fourth terms, unless the CEO determines otherwise.

  25. Highly accomplished and lead teacher –professional growth

    The Agreement would provide a clause that recognises the contribution of highly accomplished and lead teachers in Northern Territory Government schools. It would emphasise the importance of highly accomplished and lead teachers developing a professional growth plan that is aligned to the professional standards for teachers. It would also be linked to the performance and review clause in the Agreement.

  26. Recognising mid-career

    The Agreement would introduce an option for the CEO to consider whether prior experience, special expertise and qualifications of a mid-career teacher would warrant employment at a higher salary upon commencement.

  27. Probation

    The Agreement will align probation to the provisions of the PSEM Act, subject to new ongoing teachers undertaking a probationary period of 12 months. This will assist with the cultural shift from appointing new teachers for fixed periods, rather than ongoing employment. Fixed period employment may still occur, but for designated purposes, such as:

    • Back-filling employees on long leave
    • Working in positions with time limited funding
    • Working on special projects
  28. Assistant teacher incremental progression

    The new Agreement will contain a provision that enables Assistant Teachers to progress through their increments, based on equivalent experience as determined by the CEO.

  29. Union rights

    NEW – the existing provisions relating to union rights will be enhanced to:

    • Introduce a clause to cover attendance at AEU executive meetings and conferences
    • Remove the requirement for a workplace union delegate to have worked for 12 months before accessing union training leave.
  30. Stand down/non-term time provision

    NEW – The Agreement will include a clause that specifies eligibility for stand down.

  31. Responses to AEU claims
    1. Principals
      The Commissioner for Public Employment considered the AEU’s claims in relation to the coverage of employees in the new non-contract principals’ classification in the Agreement.
      Non-contract principals will be covered by the Agreement, but for the life of the Agreement Determination 1025 of 2021 will regulate their terms and conditions of employment. This will enable a review of these terms and conditions during the life of the Determination and the Agreement. It would also enable the Determination to be modified, based on operational experience.
      Notwithstanding this flexibility, the application of the Determination would be subject to the dispute settling procedures of the Agreement. Further, any variation of amendment of the Determination would be subject to the agreement of the parties.
    2. Secure employment
      The Commissioner for Public Employment accepted the importance of the AEU claim in relation to secure employment, noting that the CEO is working with the AEU to develop a comprehensive framework for the management of ongoing employment for classroom teachers that is consistent with Employment Instruction 1. The Agreement would include a clause or clauses that underpin the importance of this work and the employer’s commitment to ongoing employment. These matters could be addressed in a number of ways, such as clauses dealing with types of employment and security of employment.
    3. Relief teachers
      The clauses dealing with relief teachers will be amended to clarify their employment relationship. It will state that they are NTPS employees, but that for administrative and other purposes, the local school representative body (i.e., school council) would have responsibility for the payment of their salaries. Any provisions in the Agreement that relate to casual employees would apply to relief teachers.
    4. AllowancesThe Commissioner for Public Employment has agreed that, where appropriate, and on a case-by-case basis, teachers attending school camps could be eligible for travelling allowance or camping allowance as per the eligibility requirements under those provisions.
    5. Workloads and teacher wellbeing
      The Commissioner for Public Employment notes that there have been discussions between the CEO and the AEU about formalising a commitment to supporting the wellbeing of its teaching workforce through the Teacher Wellbeing Strategy, which aim to provide targeted support to enhance the health and wellbeing of teachers. A key action under the strategy includes identifying, reducing or removing additional time burdens associated with non-teaching and learning compliance and administrative tasks with the objective of optimising time to teach. Clauses that give effect to this work will be included in the Agreement.
    6. Business days policy
      The Department of Education has agreed to review its business days policy to ensure its consistency with the Agreement.
    7. Remote study leave policy
      The Department of Education policy about access to remote study leave will be amended to enable employees to submit an application for remote study leave prior to obtaining the necessary points for eligibility to apply for study leave. This would assist schools in their forward, staffing plans, should an application be successful.
    8. Special leave without pay
      Although the Commissioner for Public Employment could not agree to the specifics of the AEU claim in relation to leave without pay, there is a proposal to include the relevant common clause in the Agreement.
      NTPS core conditions
      The Commissioner for Public Employment agreed to include NTPS core provisions in the Agreement, as appropriate.
  1. NTPS Common Condition Improvements

    Although this is the first offer put to the AEU to settle the negotiations, the offer includes improvements that were offered to the other trade unions in the course of negotiations for the general agreement. If adopted, the Agreement would be one of the most family supportive public sector agreements in the nation. It would provide employees with greater certainty regarding employment conditions during the next 4 years.

    The particular improvements that are incorporated into this offer are:

    • There will be no reduction in current or future employee rights and entitlements, including provision of allowances and leave arrangements.
    • A new entitlement providing paid Christmas Closedown Leave to cover an agency’s closedown period between Christmas and New Year’s Day. If there are operational reasons why an employee is required to work during the Christmas to New Year’s Day period (e.g. agency does not closedown), the employee will be able to bank the equivalent working days (on a time for time basis) to be taken within the following 12 months. The entitlement does not accumulate from year to year and is not paid out on cessation of employment.
    • Agree to retain existing provisions (i.e. no reduction) in relation to disputes that may be referred to arbitration under the Dispute Settling Procedures (DSP). In addition,  the Agreement would allow the DSP clause to all disputes regarding refusals for requests for flexible work or to extend parental leave to be referred to arbitration by a party following unsuccessful attempts at internal resolution and conciliation. The DSP clause will also apply to Determination 1025 of 2021 that regulates the terms and conditions of employment of non-contract principals.
    • Facilitating flexible working arrangements for all employees will be a key objective of the Agreement. To support this objective, only Chief Executive Officers will have the authority to refuse an employee’s request to work from home. Such requests may only be refused on reasonable business grounds as defined in the Agreement. The Agreement would also contain a commitment to supporting a sector-wide working from home policy with standard and clear guidelines.
    • Under the Infectious Diseases Leave provisions, a new clause acknowledging that if an employee suffers an injury or disease in the course of their employment they may be eligible for workers compensation entitlements in accordance with the Return to Work Act 1986.
    • The Agreement would include a new clause that the parties acknowledge the NTPS Aboriginal Employment and Career Development Strategy for 2021 – 2025 and Employment Instruction Number 15 (Special Measures) as a key policy initiative and legislation respectively supporting Aboriginal recruitment, training and career progression.
    • The Agreement would include a new clause in relation to a safe and healthy work environment that provides:
      1. a commitment to supporting sector-wide guidelines to ensure work health and safety of employees, including remote employees and where travelling for work is required
      2. for all employees to be granted reasonable unscheduled short rest breaks (other than meal breaks) during work hours to refresh to ensure safe systems of work.
  2. Other matters

    The Commissioner for Public Employment considered other matters raised in the AEU’s log of claim, but was unable to agree to these, due to their expense or inconsistency with the Northern Territory Government’s wages policy.


Last updated: 25 November 2021

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