Fair Work Commission approves pay rises of up to 10 per cent for ECTs

by Freya Lucas

April 20, 2021

Early childhood teachers (ECTs) employed under the Educational Services (Teachers) Modern Award could soon benefit from pay rises of up to 10 per cent following a decision handed down by the Fair Work Commission yesterday, in response to an eight-year long action by the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA) NSW/ACT Branch. 

 

The union anticipates approximately 12,000 teachers in about 8000 long day centres will benefit if the pay rises are made. 

 

Branch Secretary Mark Northam said the decision represented a significant win, and that it represents recognition of the increasing value and importance of the work of all teachers, and particularly ECTs.

 

Significant changes in the work of teachers warrants pay rise

 

In the lead up to yesterday’s decision the IEU launched two applications seeking pay rises for degree-qualified teachers employed under the Educational Services (Teachers) Modern Award. 

 

The first application was an equal remuneration application for the ‘overwhelmingly female’ workforce of teachers employed in long day care centres and preschools, arguing that their pay was subject to gender undervaluation. 

 

The second application sought increases based on work value for all teachers employed under the Modern Award. 

 

The Fair Work Commission refused the first application on the basis that the IEU did not meet the strict tests applying to equal remuneration applications under the Fair Work Act. 

 

However, the union won the work value case which prompted the Full Bench to propose substantial pay increases in response to the work value claim. The decision of the Commission was based on two key findings, firstly that the pay rates for teachers in federal awards, including the Modern Award, had not been properly set according to relevant wage principles. 

 

The second finding was that there have been significant changes in the work of teachers and their skills and responsibilities that have not been taken into account in the Modern Award rates of pay.  

 

ECTs to be paid more, with extra recognition for Educational Leaders

 

As a result of the Commission’s review, a new pay structure was proposed by the Commission that will deliver pay rises of between five and ten per cent for ECTs, in addition to current pay rates, depending on the current pay step of the teacher. 

 

Some ECTs will be eligible for even higher increases if they have more responsibility as the Educational Leader. 

 

“The Commission has requested that state and federal governments consider funding early childhood sector pay. The union calls on governments to recognise the key role teachers play in early childhood education and support their work,” Mr Northam said.

 

The Commission will list the matter again to hear further evidence and submissions. The parties will have the opportunity to address the impact of the proposed increases on business, particularly the for-profit long day care sector, and on the national economy more broadly.

 

Issues may include the operative date of the proposed increases, any phase-in that should occur and the capacity of the state, territory and Commonwealth governments to assist in funding the wages of early childhood teachers.

 

To access a summary of the Decision, please see here

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