Top Four Workplace Issues In Early Education

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Every year thousands of educators receive back up and support from United Voice’s Union Rights Centre.

Our industrial officers are highly trained professionals who give confidential advice to any union member on a huge range of workplace issues.

Below are the top four issues educators ask us for assistance with.

If you need back up and support, call United Voice’s Union Rights Centre on 9235 7777 or email us with your question or issue.

If you are not a union member, you can join online here.

1. Bullying

Like many other sectors, bullying is very common in early childhood education. If it’s happening to you, remember you have the right to be in a safe workplace free from violence, harassment and bullying.

When you are being bullied it's important that you know there are things you can do and people who can help, including support and assistance from your union.

Find out more about what bullying is (and isn’t) here.

What should you do if you are being bullied?

  1. Fill in a Bullying or Harassment Incident Report.
  2. If your workplace has a Health and Safety Incident Report make sure you complete one. Hand a copy of the Bullying or Harassment Incident Report to your manager.
  3. If your manager is the problem, give it your human resources person a more senior manager. Keep a copy for your records. Tell your manager (or HR/senior manager) that you want the bullying or harassment to stop.
  4. Your employer should now investigate your report.
  5. Does the bullying or harassment stop? If another incident occurs after you reported the bullying/harassment to your employer fill in a second Bullying or Harassment Incident Report.
  6. File a second Health and Safety Incident Report if your workplace has them.
  7. Contact United Voice’s Union Rights Centre on 9235 7777 for back up and support. If you follow the steps outlined above we will be able to help you enforce your legal rights.

2. Disciplinary matters

When children are injured at a centre an investigation may be held to identify if there was any misconduct by a staff member.

If you are involved in an incident they are likely to be two separate meetings: one meeting where the centre investigates the incident. This is a formal disciplinary investigation and you can take a union representative along.

There may be a second where Department of Education and Training how your centre dealt with the incident. This is voluntary for educators to attend. If you attend this meeting you will be asked questions and you can respond or choose not to.

At the end of the meeting a record of the discussion should be given to you to read through and ensure it is correct or if you want to add anything. You will be asked to sign it. If you want to take a support person along, either a family member or friend is sufficient.

What should you do if you are being disciplined?

  1. Get the allegation in writing
  2. If the situation is making you feel very stressed, go and see your doctor
  3. As soon as you get the allegation, start thinking and recording your version of events down so that you can refer to this later.
  4. Arrange for a union delegate or union official to be in the meeting. Contact United Voice’s Union Rights Centre on 9235 7777 or email us.
  5. If the meeting is not convenient for you, or your representatives, ask to change the meeting time.
  6. Attend the meeting and provide your version of events

3. Workers compensation (WorkCover)

Educators often call when they have been injured at work. The most common injuries are injuries to knees and backs from bending over or lifting children, as well as psychological injuries, such as anxiety and depression.

If you are injured at work, you may wish to make a compensation claim for loss of income or the cost of your medical treatment. Follow these steps:

What should you do if you need WorkCover?

  1. Go to your doctor and ask them to help you complete a Certificate Of Capacity.  
  2. Fill in the Worker’s Injury Claim Form. You can also get this form at a post office.
  3. Take the Certificate Of Capacity and the Worker’s Injury Claim Form to your employer to sign and send to the insurer. Make sure to keep a copy of all forms. If you think your employer will not submit your form to the insurer, you may give it straight to the insurer yourself.
  4. If claim is rejected, call United Voice’s Union Rights Centre and we will refer you to Union Assist http://unionassist.org.au/ .

4. Contract issues

Educators often want to know about part-time rostering (staff being told they’re being ‘made casual’, hours being cut, non-compliance with your Award or workplace agreement).

Around Christmas a lot of centres look at the hours for the next year and tell staff they don’t have enough children in place therefore there are not enough hours to offer staff.

A lot of staff are told their hours will be cut or that they have to go from full time to part time. If you are told this you need to call United Voice’s Union Rights Centre before signing away your entitlements or allowing your hours to be cut.

What to do if you are asked to agree to a change in the terms of your employment?

  1. Check your letter of employment/contract to see how many hours you were originally employed to work.
  2. If you cannot find this gather evidence to show how many hours you have been working on an ongoing or permanent basis for an extended period.
  3. Do not sign anything
  4. Ask your employer to provide any request in writing
  5. Call the United Voice’s Union Rights Centre for advice on 03 9235 7777.

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