Teachers’ wage garnish ruled unlawful

Victorian teachers will be reimbursed money garnished from their wagesto pay for their school laptops after the Federal Court on Friday ruled the Education Departmentdeductionswere unlawful.

Kangaroo Flat Primary School grade 6 teacher and Australian EducationUnion state councillor Alastair Pata welcomed the union’ssuccessful action, which saw the practice ceased.

Mr Pata said laptops were tools of the trade for teachers and should rightfully be paid for by their employer.

“It’s just such anessential resource for teachers to have, we couldn’t do our jobwithout them,” he said.

“Students all have laptops and classrooms arefull oflaptopsfor thekidsand theteachers needtohave laptops as well.”

Mr Pata said before the rulingteachers had had no choice but to accept the deductions but had frequently questioned the practice.

“A new teacher, forexample, would be automatically signed up to the program becausethey needed a laptop right at thestart of their job,” he said.

“Our members constantly tell us that it is a big thing for them, they feel like the laptops are part of their daily job, they need them to do reports orto email parents orto email staff.”

AEU Victorian presidentMeredith Peace said laptops were essential equipment for teachers.

“Expecting teachers and principals to pay out of their own pockets for a computer that they use to write school reports, communicate with parents and other teachers and plan lessons is absolutely unfair,” she said.

“[Friday’s]orders mean 46,000 teachers and principals will receive the recompense they deserve for having these deductions made from their salary.

These orders also mean unlawful deductions like this cannot happen in future.”

Teachers and principals employed by the Education Departmentwho had money unlawfully deducted from their wages will be repaid by December 24, including a 5 per centinterest payment.

The department will not appeal the decision and is expected to repay a total of $37 million plus costs.

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