Some early childhood teachers could soon receive a pay rise, after the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision supporting pay rises of up to 10% for teachers in early childhood education and care services.
The decision was made in response to a claim by the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA) and is the result of an eight-year action by the NSW/ACT branch of the union.
If the pay rises are implemented, it is anticipated that approximately 12,000 early childhood educators in about 8000 long day care centres will benefit from the change.
The pay rise decision from the Fair Work Commission is a win for degree-qualified early childhood teachers, whose critical work is so often poorly remunerated — especially compared to teachers in primary and high school settings.
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“This is a significant win,” IEUA NSW/ACT Branch secretary Mark Northam said.
“The Commission has recognised the increasing value and importance of the work of all teachers, but particularly early childhood teachers, and this decision reflects that.”
The IEUA launched two applications seeking pay rises for degree-qualified teachers employed under the Educational Services (Teachers) Modern Award.
The second application, which sought pay increases based on work value for all teachers employed under the Modern Award, prompted the decision from the Fair Work Commission.
It was based on two findings, including that 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 early childhood teachers – including with their skills and responsibilities – that have not been taken into account in the Modern Award rates of pay.
The first application, which argued that early childhood teachers’ pay was subject to gender undervaluation, was refused by the Fair Work Commission.
The Fair Work Commission has now put forward a new pay structure, set to deliver pay rises of about 5 to 10% to early childhood teachers, depending on the current pay step of the teacher. Some teachers who are ‘Educational Leaders’ will be eligible for even greater increases.
“The Commission has requested that state and federal governments consider funding early childhood sector pay,” Northam said.
“The union calls on governments to recognise the key role teachers play in early childhood education and support their work.”
This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.