Paid Union Meetings
Union members are entitled to attend two union meetings each year within their working hours, without loss of pay. The Ministry of Education acknowledges the right of teachers and other school employees who are union members to attend such meetings. There are responsibilities for school employees, boards and unions to ensure that paid union meetings don’t cause disruption to schools.
The information below is taken from the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Education Act 1989 and the collective agreements for the education sector. Follow the links at the bottom of the page for the full text.
Boards of trustees
Boards of trustees must:
- Allow their staff to attend up to two paid union meetings a year, each one being no more than two hours duration.
- Pay each staff member their ordinary pay for the time they are at the paid union meeting, for up to two hours, if they would usually be working during that time.
- Ensure the school remains open for instruction during the paid union meeting (unions share this responsibility; see ‘Unions’, below).
- Ensure that all students have proper, safe supervision during the paid union meeting.
Boards of trustees do not have to:
- Allow staff to attend more than two paid union meetings a year.
- Pay staff for more than two hours to attend a paid union meeting, including travel time.
- Pay staff who attend a paid union meeting outside their ordinary working hours. For example, a teacher who works only in the afternoons would not be paid to attend a paid union meeting held in the morning.
- Must give boards of trustees at least 14 days notice of the time and date of the paid union meeting.
- Must make all necessary arrangements with the board of trustees to ensure the school can remain open for instruction during the paid union meeting.
- Must give the board of trustees a list of all members who attended the paid union meeting, and tell the board the length of the meeting.
Staff who are union members
- Must advise their principal as soon as possible if they will be attending a paid union meeting.
- Must return to work as soon as practicable at the end of the meeting.
Staff who are not union members
- Can be asked to cover for a staff member who is attending a paid union meeting.
Keeping the school open for instruction
All state and state-integrated schools are required to be open for instruction for a certain number of half days every year. As stated in The Education Act 1989, Section 65 A (2).
As stated above, unions must give boards at least 14 days notice of a paid union meeting, and must work with boards to ensure the school will remain open for instruction.
If a board of trustees can’t keep a school open for instruction during a paid union meeting, the board can ask the Secretary for Education to approve the school closing for instruction for a half day. The Secretary may require the board to make up the half day at another time.
Read the relevant part in each collective agreement:
- Area School Teachers’ Collective Agreement, Part 9, 9.3
- Adult Community Education Collective Agreement, Part 6, 6.2
- Kaiarahi i te Reo, Therapists', ATSSD, Special Assistants' Collective Agreement, Part 7, 7.7
- Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement, Part 2, 2.8
- School Caretakers’, Cleaners’ and Canteen Workers’ Collective Agreement, Part 6, 6.6
- Secondary Teachers’ Collective Agreement, Part 10, 10.4
- Secondary and Area School Groundstaff Collective Agreement, Part 6, 6.1
- Special Residential Schools’ Collective Agreement, Part 10, 3.2
- Support Staff in Schools Collective Agreement, Part 7, 7.8
- Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu Specialist and Support Staff Collective Agreement, Part 7, 7.4