It appeared to be just another phone call to the Union.
Helen*, a part time support staff member working in an independent school, rang the Union with an enquiry about her role.
Helen was concerned about Work Health and Safety (WHS) with regards to the supervision of multi-aged children after school hours in the library, and possible child protection concerns about being alone with so many students.
As the conversation flowed between Helen and her Union organiser, a range of questions about what appeared to be a simple enquiry revealed that the matter was more complicated.
While her concerns were all significant, the heart of the issue was whether or not Helen should supervise children in the first place.
The enquiry transformed from WHS to one including the role of support staff, classification as per the relevant enterprise agreement and appropriateness of the rate of pay or the roles Helen was expected to perform.
The organiser looked into Helen’s payslip, role description and represented her to resolve the issue with the school.
As it turned out, Helen’s classification revealed that she should not be supervising children. Therefore, her employment classification and rate of pay were incorrect, and she had been underpaid since 2015.
The Union communicated its concerns on Helen’s behalf and pursued a reclassification to better suit her work, an update of her role description and backpay.
The results for Helen?
- reclassification to a higher level support staff role
- pay rise on the new level
- backpay of just under $3000
- additional supervision assistance for after school hours
- review of the process for after school supervision, and
- update of her role description.
In this case and many others, it took just one phone call to the Union for Helen’s membership to literally pay off and remedy significant workplace issues.
It is important to seek Union advice before signing any contract and accepting role descriptions. Quite often, the matter can be resolved at the start of employment, to ensure you’re getting the right pay conditions straight away.