The following is an extract from a letter from Ministry sent to SPANZ and NZSTA on 22 May 2006 (underlining is by PPTA.)
This may assist schools operate good, fair and correct practice in the use of Clause 5.4. Please read this in conjunction with PPTA's advice (above).
"Please note that whilst we have identified the board as the primary decision maker, in practical terms it is expected that these matters would normally have been delegated to the principal under section 66 of the Education Act.
Reimbursement of actual and reasonable expenses
1. The PPTA has stated in a newsletter that boards must pay actual and reasonable costs incurred by a teacher who is required to attend school for professional development (clause 5.4.1) or administration purposes (clause 5.4.2) in attending call back days, including travel, meals and childcare costs.
2. Some boards have expressed doubt about this interpretation. They take the view that travel, childcare and meal expenses are not normally actual and reasonable costs. The legal opinion provided by SPANZ supports that view and also suggests that the provision for expenses reimbursement is limited to "course fees and the like".
3. We do not agree that the reimbursement of expenses is limited to course fees or expenses directly attributable to the professional development or administrative costs, as the case may be, as indicated by SPANZ. Such expenses would ordinarily be payable by the board in any event. Instead, clause 5.4 provides for reimbursement of general "out of pocket" expenses of the teacher incurred only by reason of the call back. In this regard, any actual expenses should be considered for reimbursement and, if reasonable (by reference to the amount and circumstances), be reimbursed accordingly.
4. Under clause 5.4 boards are entitled to call back teaching staff for up to five days when the school is closed for instruction either to participate in professional development initiatives and for a further five days for school administration, preparation and co-ordination, departmental or related activities and community, parent and whanau contact and liaison ("administration purposes"). In return, teachers on call back are entitled to be reimbursed their actual and reasonable expenses. The object of clause 5.4 as a whole is to ensure that while boards are able to make use of the time when the school is closed for appropriate professional development and administration purposes, teachers are not to be disadvantaged financially by reason of having to attend the school.
5. Although call back days required by the board are obligatory, the board must take a collaborative approach in relation to their use. It is implicit that the board will consult with staff who may be required to attend school on call back to ensure as far as practicable that the teachers concerned will not be unduly inconvenienced nor have their holiday and travel plans disrupted.
6. Conversely, provided that adequate advance notice is given and the board has made a reasonable effort to accommodate the needs of the teachers, then the teachers concerned would be expected to make appropriate arrangements to minimise the inconvenience and expense that might otherwise arise. If, despite this, costs are unavoidably incurred in relation to childcare, travel and accommodation due to the call back, then these will be characterised as "actual expenses". The question whether such expenses are also reasonable will depend on the circumstances and, to avoid subsequent argument, the parties should agree in advance on what is reasonable.
7. If the parties are unable to agree on actual and reasonable expenses in advance or in the event of a disagreement about what constitutes actual and reasonable, the matter may be referred to mediation. The Ministry would be unlikely to be willing or able to become involved in the matter to the extent that the determination in each case will depend on the facts. However, the Ministry could assist boards by way of publishing some guidance on appropriate reimbursement of expenses.
8. The PPTA has stated in their newsletter that a board must justify a professional development call back on the basis of individual need and explain how the development is relevant to the specific training and development needs of the teacher. In addition, the board must also consider any professional development work undertaken by the teacher in determining whether the call back is necessary or appropriate in an individual case.
9. The SPANZ has disputed the PPTA's view. The association's legal adviser notes that clause 5.4.1 merely requires the board to take into account the needs of the teacher and consider the teacher's own initiatives in relation to professional development. The legal adviser also points out that there is no requirement to explain the how the professional development would be relevant to the teacher personally.
10. In our view, clause 5.4.1 requires the board to take a balanced view of the need for professional development call back days. The board is entitled to identify any areas of the school's educational provision which would benefit from professional development of teachers and to schedule call back days for those teachers who are involved in these areas. However, the board must have regard to the specific development needs of individual teachers who may be required to attend on call back. If there is an identifiable need in relation to a particular teacher, then he or she may be required to attend on call back accordingly.
11. The board must similarly have regard to any professional development previously undertaken by each teacher which may be relevant to the area of concern to the board. If a teacher has no demonstrable need for the professional development being considered, or has otherwise addressed the need by other voluntary means, then the call back may be unwarranted in relation to that teacher.