Public Holidays and the Four Term Structure

The introduction of the four (4) term structure created a situation where more of Tasmania’s public holidays may fall within school holidays. This means that employees lose the benefit of a public holiday that falls within school term holidays as the day is effectively subsumed into the school holidays.

The Teaching Service (Tasmanian Public Sector) Award Part VI Section 7 (a), (b) and (c) states that, school holiday periods are inclusive of public holidays which fall within them. By virtue of this provision there is no avenue for employees to be compensated for the public holidays which are now part of the school term holidays.

The public holidays that are now at risk of coinciding with term holidays are namely, Good Friday Easter Monday and Tuesday. However, this will change year to year and these holidays will not always occur in the school term holidays.

The number of public holidays that will fall in the school holidays depends on where you live in the state. Unfortunately, North and North West members (except for those on the islands, and North West Coast from Ulverstone east) lose their respective Agricultural Show day holiday each year. In the majority of years Circular Head schools will still have the Agfest holiday.

Northern Schools receive a public holiday for the Launceston Cup which occurs on the last Wednesday in February. Metropolitan schools close from 11:00 a.m. and schools outside the metropolitan area close for the entire day. Likewise, Southern teachers receive a holiday for the Royal Hobart Regatta which falls on a Monday in early February.

The good news is that in 2018, only one public holiday falls in the school holidays for Southern and Circular Head teachers, and only two for the North and North West.

The school terms and Agricultural Show days have been determined up until 2018, and the AEU will further update members on the issue when future term dates and Agricultural show days are set.

It is not all bad news; due to the change in term time the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June no longer falls in school term holidays and teachers state wide now have the benefit of this public holiday.

The AEU has pushed this issue with both the Education Minister (past and present) and  the secretary of the DoE and proposed that teachers receive a day off somewhere in term time to compensate for the public holiday loss. However the Department was not willing to enter into such negotiations on the grounds of public policy, namely the negative public perception of having a school closed when the rest of the community is working, the need for parents to find alternate care when schools are closed and the effect of reducing the number of instructional days.

References & further information