Industrial action can take a variety of forms. For example, employees may take stopwork action (that is, refusing to attend or perform any work) or impose work bans or limitations (that is, refusing to perform particular duties or tasks). A protected action ballot to authorise the industrial action is required before protected industrial action can be taken.
Apart from any obligations contained in the Fair Work Act 2009, employees who intend to take industrial action are expected to notify the principal at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled industrial action.
Employees not participating in the industrial action should be allocated duties, as far as possible, on an equitable basis.
In making arrangements for proposed stopwork action, principals should plan for as many students as possible to be in their school for the whole day, taking into account:
- the number of teachers who will be remaining on duty
- the availability of casual relief teachers who may be employed
- the availability of parent or carer assistance for supervision activities
Principals are responsible for ensuring that adequate supervision is provided. In circumstances where there are insufficient resources available for the duration of the stopwork action, the principal is to seek advice from the Regional Director.
Principals taking stopwork action
As senior teaching service employees, it is not expected that principals would take stopwork action.
However, where a principal intends to participate in stopwork action, the principal must notify the Regional Director at least 48 hours beforehand. This notification should include the name and classification of the person (who must be a person registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching) who will have the responsibility for the operation of the school during the period of the stopwork. Should there be no suitable person available, the principal must notify the Regional Director of arrangements to be put in place for the safety and supervision of students.
Other forms of industrial action
Industrial action may take many forms including placing bans or limitations on undertaking particular duties or tasks. In this case the employee participating in the industrial action is expected to undertake all of their normal duties except those duties or tasks that are the subject of the protected industrial action.
Principals may make alternative arrangements to minimise the impact of industrial action on education programs provided that those arrangements are not contrary to Department policy.
Principals should not compromise Department policy or modify education programs only for the purpose of avoiding the imposition of a ban or limitation.
Recording absences due to industrial action
Principals are required to ensure that all absences due to industrial action are promptly processed on the payroll. Such absences do not count as service for any purpose.
Unprotected industrial action
Where an employee participates or intends to participate in industrial action that was not authorised through a protected action ballot, the principal should contact the Department’s Policy and Workplace Relations Branch on 03 7022 0013 for advice prior to taking any action in relation to that employee.
Reviewed 07 September 2022