A school reorganisation is any change or proposed change in existing employment arrangements which could either:
(i) affect the employment security, tenure, remuneration and/or status of one or more teachers; and/or
(ii) alter a position or role in ways that would require different duties, qualifications, attributes, skills, experience and/or training.
Reorganisations have been undertaken to change:
- The school’s senior management/leadership structure
- The school’s pastoral care structure
- The situation where a unit/units or an allowance/allowances are held for work which no longer needs to be done
- Changes in curriculum requirements
- Situations where subjects are no longer viable
Were an employer to undertake a reorganisation (other terms like restructuring are synonymous with this) the surplus staffing provisions of the Collective Agreement (STCA 3.9 or ASTCA 2.13 & Appendix 5) apply. In addition to the Collective Agreement requirements the board is also bound by the good faith provisions of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA).
Field Officers have a PPTA kit to guide schools and branches through a reorganisation and will talk to branches about the requirements of the process, on request. They prefer to be involved from the start of the process and can give advice on what consultation is and other requirements, including whether an appeal may be warranted.
Reorganisation is not a way of dealing with issues such as competence and discipline. Other provisions in the Collective Agreement cover these situations.
Teachers (including senior leaders) have the protections and benefits of the surplus staffing processes if a school reorganises.
Any costs associated with a school-initiated reorganisation will fall to the school.
The collectives and general employment law require genuine and transparent consultation about reorganisation. The CAPNA illustrate the kind of consultation that is required to ensure that information about positions and unit allocation is correct.
Consultation on proposed changes must be with those who may be generally affected as well as individuals whose roles will be specifically affected; the former about the general shape of the proposal, the latter about the specific impacts on their personal employment.
Consultation must be honest, responsive and communicative, based on the provision of sufficient information (including provision of proposed new job descriptions). The employer must gather and consider opinions in good faith, be prepared to go back to reconsider, allow all thoughts to be aired and looked at, review and consider the input from staff. This also requires the timely notice of meetings along with transparency in relation to the provision of detail and data that the board will rely on to make its decisions so that considered submissions can be made.
Natural justice also requires a fair hearing and unbiased consideration of every submission and the provision of explanations by the employer in response.
The first step is an audit of current positions to establish a baseline and fix errors before starting the reorganisation.
Staff should be given information about the current situation, any proposed changes and the reasons for these, the proposed process for consultation, and be able to provide feedback on these matters in a timely manner.
Where the core role is retained in a reorganisation then the position should be treated as a reduction in status if there is a loss of units and or allowances but not disestablished.
Change management toolkit
What is consultation?
ASTCA 2.13 and Appendix 5