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Catholic EA Update – 26 October 2021

Members in Catholic schools will soon be receiving a 2.35% salary increase in anticipation of the finalisation of an Enterprise Agreement (EA) document for voting in early 2022. The employers agreed to the IEU request in light of the length of negotiations and the progress being made.

The negotiation progress has been lengthy, partly because of COVID, but also because of the amount of careful wordsmithing needed to draft changes which are sometimes substantial. There have been 19 full negotiating meetings and 11 drafting meetings, and, apart from a few remaining sticking points around casuals, overtime and ESO TOIL arrangements, the end of negotiation is in sight with a major rewrite of the EA to follow.

Wage increases will mirror the Department for Education which are 2.35% in 2021 and 2.35% in 2022.

ESO casual rates will increase from 20% to 25% over the agreement.

Paid Maternity Leave will now become Paid Parental Leave and be gender-blind and open to either parent.

The teacher classification scale has been rewritten around the concepts of Graduate and Proficient Teachers with progress relying on obtaining Full Registration. Currently-employed teachers will translate to the new structure without needing to meet the new hurdles.

In further recognition of the AITSL standards, the long-grandfathered AST will disappear in 2025 to be replaced by enhanced payments for HAT and Lead teacher ($7k and $12k) in 2022.

Teacher workload has been reconfigured with reduction to relief lessons, OPA, CEA and average student contact time at the trade-off of increased flexibility for employers.

ESOs have been subject to an unusually high number of employer claims for lessening current conditions around incremental progression, penalty rates, TOIL and casualisation. These issues have been strongly debated and proposed outcomes moderated.

With changes to the Fair Work Act inserting a particularly unhelpful definition of casual, much consideration has been given to the implications of the various other references to “casual” and “casual loading” elsewhere in the EA. The codifying of how and when annual leave occurs for various groups has been similarly demanding of the drafters.

The ability of the employer to with-hold salary for giving short notice has been reduced to a maximum of 1 or 2 weeks.

Family and Domestic Violence Leave will include 5 paid days.

There will be changes to probation, performance management and incapacity that were reluctantly made. A more detailed list of changes was recently published and can be accessed on our website – click here to read

Until the new agreement is approved by the Fair Work Commission, the current agreement continues in force. Employers may be keen to start using the new provisions, but they will only be able to enact new provisions which are more beneficial to employees.

At the end of the day, negotiation is where two parties try to reach a deal where both maximise their gains and minimise their losses. Whatever concessions have been extracted or whatever concessions have been made, the outcome will have been the product of persistent argument at the table from both sides. The eventual ballot process next year will determine if the outcome is acceptable to the majority or if the negotiators are sent back for another go.