Hours of work - Call back days

PPTA Te Wehengarua advice to teachers regarding clause 5.6 of the Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement (STCA) "Duties when schools are not open for instruction". Teachers refer to this as 'call back days'
Note: The clause numbering for these provisions changed from 5.4 to 5.6 in the 2023-25 STCA, but the intent and interpretation of those provisions did not change

Duties when schools are not open for instruction

Clause 5.6 of the Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement (STCA) (and 4.7.2 of the Area School Teachers' Collective Agreement (ASTCA))  allows schools to call back teachers for up to five days for professional development and up to five days for school administration in any school year.

  • Although call back days required by the board are obligatory, the board must take a collaborative approach in relation to their use.
  • As far as practicable teachers concerned will not be unduly inconvenienced, nor have their holiday and travel plans disrupted.
  • Reimbursement of expenses includes general "out-of-pocket" expenses incurred only be reason of the call back, including travel, childcare, meals etc.
  • A blanket requirement for professional development, without prior consideration to individual circumstances, is insufficient.
  • Call back for administration should not be unreasonable, take into account teachers' individual needs, and take into account teachers' own initiatives.
  • Advance planning and collaboration and pre-approval processes can help avoid issues in these areas.

For example - after school closed at the end of term 4, any call back day prior to 28 January of the next year would have been counted against the 5 + 5 possible days of clause 5.4 for the school year, as 27 January is the official "end-of-year" date for the school year.

callback gentNote: All teachers who taught the whole of the school year have earned holiday pay up to and including 27 January. Therefore there could be no pay reductions (or threats of such) for non-attendance on or before 27 January.

What you need to know about call back days

1. Except as provided for in clauses 5.6.2 and 5.6.3 teachers cannot be required to attend school before 8:30 am and after 4:30 pm on days that the school is open for instruction (or the equivalent period if agreed under 5.1.4), or on days that the school is not open for instruction at all, such as term breaks or public holidays, unless a teacher receives a unit(s) or allowance(s) for additional responsibilities and has agreed in writing that some or all of these responsibilities be worked at a specific time outside open for instruction hours.

2. Schools are entitled to ten call-back days (or equivalents of days) each year: five for professional learning and development (PLD), and five for “all or any of the following purposes – school administration, preparation and coordination, departmental or related activities and community, parent and whanau contact and liaison.” The PLD days are covered by the Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement (STCA) s 5.6.2, and the rest by s 5.6.3. Both are also covered by s 5.6.3.

3. They are not interchangeable – the employer can’t cash in the PLD call-backs for five more ‘other purpose’ call backs.

4. Both 5.6.2 and 5.6.3 state “the employer may require teachers....” but they are required to meet specific requirements before they may do so.

5. You can refuse to turn up to them if the employer does not meet those requirements set out in the STCA or if you have already done your five days per year under the clause the employer is using. Pay cannot be deducted from your holiday pay if you do not attend. However, before refusing to attend you should contact your PPTA field officer to confirm that you are not refusing a legitimate instruction.

6. The employer must give you reasonable notice and, again, if you have other things on (pre-booked) they cannot dock pay for non-attendance as technically the school is closed for instruction. Alternatively, they may have to reimburse you for the cost of changing your bookings.

7. When it comes to the PLD days, 5.6.2 says “the employer may require teachers to participate in professional development opportunities at times when the school is not open for instruction.”

8. The employer has to consider what PLD you have already undertaken on your own initiative or at the direction of the school and how the particular PLD they are proposing applies to you. A blanket call for teachers to return is unlikely to meet the requirement of the employer considering your individual circumstances and individual needs.

9. Deciding to attend a conference and paying for it yourself without the school knowing would not necessarily count if the employer is proposing something quite different, but they have to consider what you have already done and whether the proposed PLD is relevant to you individually.

10. When it comes to the other days, 5.6.3 says the employer must count time you have already spent outside of times when the school is open for instruction engaged in the activities.

11. If you have to attend a call-back day, then the school must reimburse you for all actual and reasonable costs that you incur. This is set out in 5.6.4. This means that it’s not enough for your school to subsidise childcare on a call-back day – they must reimburse the full cost, as well as travel costs and the meal allowance (if you do not agree to a meal being provided by the school).

12. Reimbursement is for reasonable costs. What is reasonable will depend on the individual circumstances. It is good practice for the employer to seek information before requiring attendance on the likely costs, and to agree those costs beforehand.

13. The employer must reimburse costs. For accounting purposes, the employer may request receipts. Where receipts are available these should be provided to the employer. Where receipts are not available, a written statement of the cost and the reason for incurring it can be provided.

14. When counting your five days call-back, the school year is taken as being from 28th January to 27th January. So, if you have already done your five days for administration, communication with parents etc. by the end of term 4 then the school cannot call you back for a new lot of days until the 28th January of the next year.

15. Annual leave and callbacks.

When there is an agreed period of annual leave, or a notified close down period the employer cannot require you to attend work under the callback clauses on those date.

16. When the school has been open for instruction (callback outside the normal school day)

For the purposes of call back the normal school day is 8.30 am to 4.30 pm on days when the school is open for instruction.

Schools may agree with staff, and record in their timetable policy, a different period of 9 hours for their normal school day (e.g. 8.00 am to 4.00pm or 9.30am to 5.30 pm)

Outside those eight hours on a school day the school is closed for instruction. The employer can only require attendance on site outside those hours under the call back provisions.

17. If employers are using callback days in hours ,then 8 hours is one full call back day. An example would be if staff were required to be onsite for a PLD session from 4.30p to 5.30 pm. All the requirements for call back must be met, and 8 of these sessions would be one day’s callback.

MoE advice on call back days

 The following is an extract from a letter from Ministry sent to SPANZ and NZSTA on 22 May 2006 (underlining is by PPTA.) Note that the references are to the clause numbers prior to 2023.

This may assist schools operate good, fair and correct practice in the use of Clause 5.6. 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.


View expanded page

Last modified on Wednesday, 6 March 2024 15:05