Flexible work options

There are 2 main options for principals to work flexibly:

  • part time: a time fraction less than 1.0 FTE
  • co-principals (job-share): 2 individuals share the principal position as the substantive occupants of the role.

Under this policy the principal role can be greater than 1.0 FTE where an approved flexible work arrangement is in place and the relevant approver is satisfied that the arrangement meets the needs of the school.

These options, including the relevant application and approval processes, are outlined in greater detail below.


Under this arrangement, 2 individuals share the principal position as the substantive occupants of the role.

Application process

As co-principals are both substantively appointed to the principal role, co-principal arrangements can only be created as a result of a competitive recruitment process.

Where 2 candidates wish to apply for co-principalship they must submit a joint application as part of the recruitment process and will be considered as a ‘package’.

The shared application should include a proposal for how accountabilities, duties and the exercise of delegations will be shared between the partners.

As outlined in the Principal Selection policy and the Teaching Service delegations (PDF)External Link , where the school council’s selection panel recommends an applicant for a principal vacancy, the selection report must be submitted to the Deputy Secretary, Schools Regional Services for consideration as the Secretary’s delegate. The selection panel should be satisfied that the proposed arrangement will meet the requirements of the principal role when recommending co-principal applicants.

If successful, both appointees must have a clear agreement about how the role and responsibilities will be shared. This agreement is documented in the ‘co-principals’ template contract of employment, which must be approved and signed by the Deputy Secretary, Schools Regional Services. As noted above, the co-principals have applied as a ‘package’ and the selection panel should not consider the applicants separately to ensure a merit-based process for any other applicants.

If a substantive principal wishes to be appointed as a co-principal with a job share partner, they must formally vacate their substantive role to allow for a competitive recruitment process to take place. This is to ensure that the principles of merit are upheld. A principal who is already substantively appointed to a principal role may wish to consider part-time arrangements, outlined below.

Other considerations

It is expected that co-principals will have a shared work-day where this is possible within the resources available to the school. A shared work-day enables handover between co-principals, fostering a common understanding of issues at the school.

Practically, this option may be most suitable for leaders who propose to work a time fraction that is less than 0.8 FTE, for example where the role is split 50/50 or 60/40.

Part time

A substantive principal may wish to reduce their time fraction to less than 1.0 FTE.

Under the department’s Part-time Employment policy, any reduction in time fraction is permanent. Nothing precludes a principal and the regional director agreeing, at the time of the reduction, or at a later time, to a future dated time fraction increase and this agreement must be in writing (having the effect of a time-limited time fraction reduction).

Application process

Principals applying for part time must use the relevant request forms available on the Flexible Work policy page, for submission to the regional director.

Options for working part-time include a time fraction reduction, or using accrued leave (such as long-service leave) on a regular basis to reduce the number of hours or days worked per fortnight.

The flexible work application must address how considerations such as the exercise of delegations and/or the completion of other duties will be managed on the principal’s non-work day/s.

It is expected that the part-time principal will have an acting principal arrangement to cover any normal school hours that fall on their non-attendance day.

The regional director should consult with the school council president on the proposal.

Acting arrangements

An acting principal may be appointed through an internal or external expression of interest (EOI) process, in accordance with the department’s Higher Duties – Teaching Service policy.

Under the Higher Duties – Teaching Service policy, an EOI process is required for assignments of greater than 3 months.

The Deputy Secretary, Schools Regional Services, may approve the payment of higher duties in circumstances where the employee does not otherwise meet the requirements of the Higher Duties – Teaching Service policy (for example, where higher duties are not undertaken for 5 consecutive days). For information about this process contact:

Under the Flexible Work for Principals policy, higher duties for an acting principal should be limited to 12 months per EOI process.

Alternatively, where another member of the school leadership team (for example, an assistant principal) is assigned as the acting principal on the principal’s non-attendance day the substantive principal may approve a range review for the relevant employee to take into account the increased duties undertaken on the principal’s non-attendance day.

Other considerations

Practically, this option is most suited to a principal wishing to work 0.8 or 0.9 FTE and can be established at any time during the principal’s contract.

Principals considering part-time work should seek independent financial advice about the potential impact that these arrangements may have on their personal financial position.

Declining a request on reasonable business grounds

The regional director may decline a request to work part time on reasonable business grounds.

Reasonable business grounds for refusal of a flexible work arrangement may include that:

  • the arrangement cannot be accommodated within the resources available to the school
  • there is no capacity to change the working arrangements of other employees (for example, an assistant principal) to accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the principal
  • it is impractical to change the working arrangements of other employees, or recruit new employees, to accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the employee
  • the new working arrangements requested by the principal would be likely to result in a significant loss in efficiency or productivity.

For more information about reasonable business grounds refer to: Flexible Work.

Includes information on the main options for principals to work flexibly: part-time and job-share

Reviewed 04 March 2024

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