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Western Teacher

Fresh perspectives and new developments

By Janette Bedwell
Women’s contact officer

With the registration of the Schools General Agreement (GA) 2021, I thought this an opportune moment to look at the changes that will benefit women, particularly the new clause in part eight of the GA 2021, personal leave clause 33.

This clause comes into effect on 1 January 2023 and entitles an employee to 15 days of personal leave each year (two days of which do not carry over, so should be used first).

The clause states that the two days of non-cumulative leave will be deducted in the first instance. This is a huge advantage for our members, particularly those who have family responsibilities.

As the clause around personal leave comes into effect, all leave already accumulated will be converted to personal leave.

For many of our members who are permanent or on fixed-term contracts, this means that they can now access their personal leave to undertake caring responsibilities.

Of course, you can only use the leave that you have accumulated under the clause. You can access leave on an hourly basis, and you will need to identify the reason you are accessing the leave, such as stating whether you are ill or injured, caring for a family member or require leave on compassionate grounds. Evidence needs to be provided if taking more than two consecutive days.

School development days

The allocation of half a day (of the existing two school development days) that is to be reserved for work-related matters at the discretion of the worker is a real bonus, I believe, for many of our members who work part-time or job share. This will create opportunities for members to discuss and share lesson plans, teaching methods and strategies for the year with their fellow teachers, saving time and encouraging transparency and best practice in schools.

Equal Opportunity (EO) Act 1984

In my last article in Western Teacher, I mentioned the EO Act of WA, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the grounds of breast feeding or bottle feeding. The Department of Education and the SSTUWA will develop an exchange of letters on this issue, to reinforce provisions within the EO Act around breastfeeding, making it a stronger, more intuitive entitlement.

If you have any questions about the new clauses, please don’t hesitate to contact the union.

The new TAFE General Agreement has recently been to ballot and was accepted by our TAFE members. Once registered in the WAIRC, I look forward to giving a women’s contact officer perspective on the updates.

Anna Stewart Memorial Project

The union congratulates Jill Pether and Jonelle Rafols, the successful SSTUWA applicants for the 2022 Anna Stewart Memorial Project, run by UnionsWA. Jill and Jonelle joined members from other unions across WA for a week of comprehensive industrial training last month, including working here at the SSTUWA office in West Perth, to get an in-depth look at how the union operates. Well done, Jill and Jonelle, we look forward to hearing about your experiences.