RNZ, Auckland, May 16, 2018
Early childhood teachers have joined the ranks of workers who say they are working extra hours without pay.
A growing number of retail workers have complained about the practice since the Employment Court last week ruled Smiths City must back-pay staff for unpaid meetings held over the past six years.
Sandie Burn from the Educational Institute said it was a common problem in early childhood centres.
“I have heard of lots of centres that are expected to work one to one-and-a-half hours. They are not paid and there is no time in lieu. I have heard of one centre where they have a meeting of up to two hours and they are paid a meal allowance of $10. So, that means they are effectively working for $5 an hour which is just appalling,” she said.
The extra hours were generally for staff meetings once a week or fortnight after children had gone home for the day, and also for training courses, Mrs Burn said.
Some centres paid their teachers for such work, but others did not and teachers did not challenge the practice, she said.
“They are scared for their jobs,” Ms Burn said.
She hoped that the Employment Court ruling would encourage early childhood centres to pay staff for attending meetings and training.
She said that teachers worked hard and it was difficult for them to stay passionate about the job when they were asked to work extra hours without pay.
“There are good centres out there with employers who do care and do look after them, but there are others who don’t and often if they are challenged, they will say things like ‘It is company policy’,” Ms Burn said.
Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand Chief Executive Kathy Wolfe said that she was not aware of the situation but was not surprised it was occurring.
“ECE teachers are passionate about their work, and often go beyond the call of their profession,” she said.
Ms Wolfe said that Early Childhood teachers’ conditions and pay should be similar to those of their primary and secondary school peers.
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Picture for RNZ by Richard Tindiller