Should educators work outside their normal hours to make Christmas jolly?

by Freya Lucas

November 05, 2019

South Australian politician, Rob Lucas MLC has issued a statement dubbing the Australian Education Union (AEU) as the Grinch, saying the Union has “stolen Christmas from working families” at a local primary school, by influencing union members at the school to hold a popular Christmas concert event during their normal working hours, rather than during “twilight”.

 

Mr Lucas’ statements reflect a broader discussion which often happens at the end of any given year – should those working in all facets of education, including early childhood education and care (ECEC) be expected to attend work outside of their normal working hours, often unpaid, or paid in “time in lieu” which can only be taken at the employer’s discretion?

 

A justification for this exchange of time is often “I do it because the children/families love it” but an equally popular response is “love doesn’t pay the bills.”  

 

The AEU directive Mr Lucas refers to is part of a broader State wide “work to rule” ban which is reportedly being encouraged by the Union, as part of broader industrial action. 

 

Mr Lucas has described the moving of the Christmas concert as “outrageous” and “mean spirited” because it “robs working Mums, Dads and Grandparents of the opportunity to share in the delight of their children’s end-of-year concert celebration.’’ 

 

AEU union spokesperson, Howard Spreadbury has previously spoken to the media, countering that educators needed to take back “control”, telling FIVEaa breakfast “…what teachers and support staff and leaders are doing in fact, is taking some control over the ever-expanding work that’s being required of them by the system. So, it’s a means of taking back some control in relation to doing their job, but also … the excessive workload that they face.” 

 

So… as we round out the end of 2019, The Sector asks you to consider your position. Do you attend workplace events and ceremonies outside of your normal working hours? 

 

Is your attendance at these events paid or unpaid? What influences your decision making in this space? 

 

How can employers best meet the needs of employees, children and families at this busy time of year? 

 

Share your thoughts with us via our social media channels, or leave a comment below. 

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