September 22, 2022

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Educators are “horrified” over a plan that will see Queensland teachers docked pay if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

A letter issued from the Department of Education has left hundreds of teachers reeling, and Teachers’ Professional Association secretary Tracy Tully said it was an “outrage”.

She told Today the decision was not made on health grounds, as the teachers would still be allowed in the classroom.

Female Student Raising Hand To Ask Question In Classroom
Queensland teachers who have no COVID-19 vaccine will be docked pay under a new Department of Education policy. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Depending on the rank of the employee, the pay cuts could range from $500 to $3000.

“These teachers have been at the forefront of COVID since it started so to all of a sudden treat them like this is absolutely demoralising,” Tully said.

“The reason being, it’s about punishment, because they can, and it’s a small select group and as a small select group they can be targeted easily.”

She said teachers who refused to get vaccinated had already been stood down without pay during the pandemic.

“They did not break any laws by not following the direction,” Tully said.

Tully said the pay cuts would happen “immediately”, and that there had been no consultation.

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“We’ll do the fight for them,” she said.

“I personally am invested in this one with the Industrial Relations Commission because the power, of the arrogance, of the cruelty, in what they’re doing.”

A Department of Education spokesperson said the “disciplinary penalty” amounted to about $25-$90 a week for 18 weeks, proportionate to a staff member’s pay.

“This is not an uncommon penalty to result from a disciplinary process,” the spokesperson said.

“The Department of Education is pleased that 99 per cent of the approximate 54,000 teachers have complied with the requirements.

“However, the department is currently finalising disciplinary processes against approximately 900 school staff (including teachers, teacher aides, admin staff, cleaners, schools officers, etc) who were non-compliant with the lawful direction from their employer enforcing the Chief Health Officer’s direction to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”

The spokesperson said those staff had had their individual circumstances considered before disciplinary measures were decided on.

“School staff were given ample opportunity to follow the lawful direction or provide evidence as to why they should be exempt from the direction since the vaccination requirements were announced in November 2021,” the spokesperson said.

“The Chief Health Officer’s direction requiring school staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 was repealed on 30 June 2022. Since that time unvaccinated staff have been able to return to the workplace.”

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