Home | News | Queensland teachers sign deal to switch-off phones after work
Queensland Teachers’ Union president Cresta Richardson said she "proudly stands" behind the new deal. Picture: Richard Windeyer/News Corp. Australia.

Queensland teachers sign deal to switch-off phones after work

Queensland teachers will have the right to ignore phone calls and emails from work after school hours as part of a new enterprise agreement put forward by the state's teachers union. 

A proposed "digital detox" clause from the Queensland Teachers' Union, which is currently open for the state’s teachers to vote on, will allow educators to switch off their phones and computers after 3:30 pm.  

The three-year clause also allows teachers to put their phones down and restrict contact during weekends, holidays, rest time and leave periods, except in “exceptional circumstances”. 

According to QTU president Cresta Richardson, the agreement is essential to reduce teachers workloads and allow them to disconnect after work. 

“The QTU knows from regular and extensive internal surveys of its 48-thousand members that workload continues to grow each year for Queensland Teachers,” Richardson told Education Review.

“With widespread teacher shortages, the QTU believes it is essential teachers have clear work boundaries and enjoy personal time with family and loved ones to prevent burnout and further losses to the profession.”  

If the agreement is accepted by QTU members, it will go to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission for implementation in the coming year.

The ‘no phone after hours’ clause could also be rolled out nationwide, with the idea being recommended as part of the Draft National Teacher Workforce Action Plan set released in October.

In Australia, teachers' workload has been increasing exponentially during Covid-19 and has had a significant impact on educators' wellbeing. 

According to a 2022 schools report, around 80 per cent of Australian educators believe their work-life balance was either “less than ideal or non-existent”. 

“Queensland teachers work on average more than 45 hours per week, school leaders in excess of that, weekends and school holidays are also used as catch up and lesson planning,” Richardson said. 

“Teachers and school leaders are not paid overtime.” 

In addition to switching their phone off, Queensland state teachers will also see their salary package increase between 11 to 20 per cent over the next three years as part of the deal, in addition to a cost-of-living bonus.

Queensland teachers will benefit from a Cost of Living Adjustment which will see their wages raised to three per cent if inflation exceeds the scheduled pay rises.

With the inflation set to reach almost eight per cent, Queensland teachers could see their wages reach $80,000 for entry-level teachers and $153,000 for lead teachers.

The new enterprise agreement also includes bonuses for teachers willing to work in remote and regional areas who will receive between $3000 and $6000 yearly on top of their wages.

Australian teachers returning from overseas and able to work in regional areas will also benefit from a $2000 sign-off bonus.

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace believes the new deal will set Queensland teachers with "the best conditions and pay in the country".

“We are always keen to recruit more of the brightest minds to educate our youngest Queenslanders, particularly to remote and regional areas, where we know it can be more challenging to fill vacancies,’’ Grace told the Australian.

“While everyone recognises the importance and benefit of technology for doing our job, we want to encourage a culture where teachers are supported to digitally disconnect when they’re not at work, except in exceptional circumstances.’’

Queensland teachers have until midnight Tuesday to vote on the enterprise agreement.

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