Extra work requests made of teachers on sick leave

4 March, 2021

IEU members have reported employers who are placing inappropriate requirements on teachers who are sick.

Organiser Caryl Rosser said unfortunately, some employers were asking staff who were on sick leave to send through a copy of all their planning for the day.

“When a teacher calls in sick and is taking leave, some schools are asking for detailed lesson plans of the work to be left, and some employers are insisting teachers use a particular form to leave the detailed work,” Caryl said.

“Copies of all the required programs and planning are already saved on a shared system, accessible to other school staff which can then be supplied to relief teachers.

“It’s a ridiculous and unfair expectation for teachers to work while they’re on sick leave.

“It’s a waste of time and double-handling of work given all lesson planning is already saved on a shared computer system,” Caryl said.

Burdensome requirements discourage leave

Another IEU Organiser Alica Walters said alarmingly, some teacher members reported their employer’s expectations to provide detailed planning when they take a sick day are so burdensome, it was too difficult to take the leave they needed.

“This is a huge work health and safety risk and especially worrying to hear during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Alica said.

“Teachers should be allowed to use their professional judgement as to the level of instruction being provided to the relief teacher, who is also capable of using their own professional judgement to cover the lessons.”

“Nobody should be discouraged from taking sick leave due to burdensome employer requirements,” she said.

Chapter pushback prevails

In one instance, a Queensland Catholic school asked sick teachers to include all the differentiation for individual students in their planning, while they were on sick leave.

Caryl said the IEU Chapter at the school came together to collectively voice their opposition to the employer’s arduous and unfair requirements and wrote a resolution which they sent to the principal.

“The principal responded and clarified the teachers are not expected to do this, so fortunately no further action was necessary,” she said.

“Nobody who is on sick leave should be subjected to such unreasonable expectations,” Caryl said.

Contact our union

Members who are being asked to undertake work when on sick leave should notify their Chapter Representative in the first instance so the Chapter can collectively voice concerns with their employer.

Contact your organiser or our union’s expert industrial team if your employer asks you to send in your lesson plans or undertake any work when you are on sick leave.

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