Resumption of duty
An employee may return to duty after a parental absence:
- 6 weeks following the birth or placement of a child or the expiration of maternity leave if written notice of intention to return is given to this effect prior to the commencement of the absence, or
- on the 1st day of any term if written notice of intention to return is given by 1 October in the year preceding the intended date of return, or
- at such other times as may be approved in any particular case provided that applications on compassionate or hardship grounds will not be unreasonably refused
An ongoing employee, other than an education support class employee, whose period of paid maternity leave or other paid parental leave expires during a school vacation period is entitled to receive their normal pay for the remainder of that vacation period provided the employee has provided notice as outlined above and returns to duty immediately after the vacation.
A fixed term employee, other than an education support class employee, whose period of employment concludes on or before the end of a school vacation period and after the period of paid maternity leave or other paid parental leave expires is entitled to receive pay for the remainder of the period of fixed term employment should that employee have no further offer of employment. Where there is a further offer of employment, which has been accepted, the employee has the option of resuming duty and receiving salary for the remainder of the school vacation period or to proceed onto unpaid family leave.
Flexible working arrangements following resumption
Where an employee has requested to resume from parental absence and their child is under school age, they may request to return to duty following parental absence on a part-time basis to assist the employee in reconciling work and parental responsibilities. A written response to such a request is required no later than 21 days following the date of the request, including the reasons where a request is refused.
Any such request will be considered having regard to the employee’s circumstances and the operational needs of the school. Provided the request is genuinely based on the employee’s parental responsibilities, the request may only be refused on reasonable grounds, for example:
- the new working arrangements requested by the employee would be too costly
- there is no capacity to change the working arrangements of other employees to accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the employee
- it would be 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 employee would be likely to impact negatively on or result in a significant loss in service delivery.
Where an employee returns to duty on a part-time basis, the employee will revert (unless otherwise agreed between the employee and the principal) to the time fraction the employee was working immediately prior to the commencement of the employee’s 1st period of parental absence when the youngest of the employee’s children reaches school age. The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 defines school age as 6.
Where a principal cannot fill a fixed term vacancy of more than 6 weeks with a suitable qualified person, a temporary resumption to duty for an employee currently on unpaid parental absence can be considered. A temporary resumption should only be considered where all other avenues of employment have been exhausted, that is, employees with priority status or a person who could be offered fixed term employment are not available.
Where an employee on parental absence is the preferred applicant arising from an advertised position and a merit selection process, that employee may only resume on a temporary basis where that employee is the only suitable qualified applicant. The employee may, however, elect to resume on a permanent basis to take up the position. When an employee temporarily resumes:
- salary will be at the employee’s substantive salary or remuneration level,
- service will be recognised for all purposes (for example, long service leave or personal leave),
- the employee will resume parental absence at the end of the temporary resumption period,
- at their substantive time fraction, the resumption will not be included in the parental absence period,
- at a lower time fraction than the employee’s substantive time fraction, the employee’s substantive time fraction does not alter. In this case the employee will resume duty at the lower time fraction with the remainder being parental absence (for example, a full time employee agrees to temporarily resume for 3 days a week. In this example 0.6 would be duty and 0.4 would be parental absence).
Temporary resumption may also be approved in other circumstances by making application to the Executive Director, Schools Human Resource Division.
A teacher who temporarily resumes duty is entitled to be paid during school vacations that occur during the resumption period under the same terms and conditions that apply to other teachers. Where the temporary resumption is for less than 1 term, the teacher is entitled to be paid 1⅔ days annual leave for each month of service during the temporary resumption period.
The temporary resumption of an employee into a fixed term vacancy will require consultation to be undertaken between the 2 principals and the employee involved so that the implications of the temporary resumption are clear to all.
- The employee who has been asked to resume temporarily must provide details of the temporary resumption to their base school principal and seek the base school principal's written approval prior to the temporary resumption.
- The principal planning to offer temporary resumption to an employee must consult with the employee’s base school principal to ensure that the approval has been sought.
- The base school principal may give written permission for the employee to resume temporarily from parental absence. Unless the temporary resumption is going to adversely affect the base school's workforce plan, it is expected that the base school principal would normally approve the temporary resumption.
In planning to fill a vacancy with the temporary resumption of an employee, the principal of the appointing school must ensure that the base school principal has been made aware of the resumption and been given an opportunity to endorse it. In the event that the base school principal does not agree to the temporary resumption, the principal of the appointing school may only proceed with the temporary resumption by accepting responsibility for the employee’s placement at the expiration of the parental absence period (that is, the appointing school becomes the employee’s new base school).
Where the temporary resumption is at the employee’s base school or where the resumption is at another school and the base school principal does not support the temporary resumption, the sample letter will need to be varied to reflect the arrangements.
An employee who wishes to continue breastfeeding or expressing breastmilk after returning to work from a period of parental leave may take reasonable paid time, not exceeding one hour in total per day. Paid lactation breaks are in addition to the lunch break and, as far as is practicable, should be taken at times that causes the least disruption to the educational program of the school.
An employee requesting lactation breaks will provide the principal with a request setting out the expected frequency, duration and timing of breaks sought. A request for lactation break will be approved except in exceptional circumstances such as when the break cannot be accommodated by the operational requirements of the school.
The employee should be provided access to suitable facilities to facilitate breastfeeding or expressing of milk. Suitable facilities may include a private lactation space with a lockable door and power point, a comfortable chair and a small low table plus access to a refrigerator to store breastmilk. The employee may return home or attend another location during the break as agreed. For more information about support of breastfeeding in the workplace, the following site may be useful:
Reviewed 13 October 2023