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Calculating Teacher Christmas Holiday Pay

If a teacher has worked all 4 terms, they can expect to be paid continuously through the Christmas break if continuing or if not continuing they would receive pay for the full 12 months through to the start of the new school year.

The usual pattern for calculating pay for teachers’ non attendance time is that (in recognition of unquantified hours in excess of 38 per week during term time) term breaks are considered a part of the preceding term and paid, even if the teacher is not returning next term. Term 4 is generally considered to end on 31 December with January being annual leave. For those who do not work all 4 terms, for every term worked 1 week’s annual leave (plus 17.5% loading) would be paid. Minor variations to this have been incorporated into our EAs.

With the advent of the Modern Awards, more schools are incorporating Clause 22 of the Teachers Award into EAs. The formula for calculating pro-rata holiday pay (including annual leave) is not of itself unreasonable but looks a bit confusing at first glance.

Under the Modern Award approach you will need to know various pieces of information

  1. When staff were first required to attend for the year. This is the start of
    the school year”. It is NOT when students are first required. Therefore this year’s “week zero” will be in the current school year, but next year’s “week zero” will be the start of the next school year. This is when we start counting the school year.
  2. How many term weeks in a full school year (student attendance). This will usually be 39 or 40. Let’s call this “b”
  3. How many non-term weeks in a full school year. This will usually be 12 or 13. Let’s call this “c”.
  4. How much you have been paid for term weeks. Let’s call this “s”.
  5. How much you have been paid for non-term weeks (including any week zero or other attendance times before or after students’ term time). Let’s call this “d”.

The Payment due (let’s call it “P”) is then

P =(sxc/b) –d

An example.

If I am on $2,000 per week and if I worked Terms 3 and 4 (20 weeks) and am continuing next year and will attend Week Zero next year, my holiday pay for this year will be calculated and paid on 14 December. I would have been paid $40,000 for term time (“s”) and $4,000 for term 3 break (“d”). The school year is 40 term weeks (“b”) and 12 non term weeks (“c”)

P = ($40,000 x 12/40) – $4,000 = $8,000

to tide me over until next year’s week zero which is the start of the new school year. This will mean that I am missing about a fortnight’s annual leave pay because I only worked half the year.

The counter-intuitive aspect is that the pay for attendance weeks other than term time counts as time not worked and is subtracted from the holiday pay due. It would perhaps be fairer if week zero was counted as a term week, but that was not the considered wisdom of the Fair Work Commission when formulating the Modern Award. To change that would take a claim at the EA negotiating table.

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