Guidelines for managing day relief

This advice and guidance was developed in conjunction with the PPTA’s Senior Positions Advisory Committee to assist those charged with managing day relief in schools.

Your relief budget

The school is funded by the MoE for the provision of relief at the rate of 13 days per FTTE.

Absences for sickness of more than 8 days are funded by the Ministry of Education 

The board is expected to budget an adequate amount to cover actual relief costs each year - if it is running out each year then it should be increasing the budget allocation. Relief budget costs will include travel reimbursements for relief teachers.

The following is from the Ministry of Education website:

Budgeting for relief teacher expenses

While there is no set amount your board of trustees should spend on relief teachers, we recommend you set aside an amount for relief teacher expenses in your annual budget.

Remember to consider:

  • your collective agreement obligations 
  • your previous relief teacher funding needs
  • any known demands on your budget, such as higher duties allowances, professional development, special leave, ongoing illnesses, or staff absences due to hospitalisation or surgery.

Your board of trustees must manage any surpluses or deficits from under or overspending on the employment of relief teachers from year to year as part of the overall financial management of the school.

The MoE provides additional relief teacher funding for sick leave over 8 days, approved sports and cultural leave and jury service when certain conditions are met.

Additional relief teacher funding (

Using day relievers

The day relievers that are employed on short term agreements are covered by the STCA.

Day relievers have an employment agreement with the school when you ask them to do the work and they agree to do it, but it is better (and required by the ERA) that a written employment contract is exchanged between the school and the reliever each time. This can be by email.

When contacting day relievers be clear about whether they are being employed by the hour or by the day and what duties are expected of them in addition to classroom relief cover. Put the hours and duties and the type of employment in writing for the reliever (this can be in an email). Relievers can be employed in two ways:

  • If they are employed by the day (STCA clause 4.4.1, ASTCA clause 3.27.2a) then they can be asked to do a full day’s duty (including form time, etc.) They are paid 1/190th of the lower of their actual pay step or step 6 for the day (which includes holiday pay).

  • f they are employed by the hour (clause 4.4.2, ASTCA clause 3.27.2b) then they are paid for the hours they actually do, including non-timetabled duties you might want them to undertake. They must be paid for a minimum of two hours per day and if there is a gap of more than an hour and a half between duties then they are paid an additional hour. They are paid 1/950th of the lower of their actual pay step or step for each hour they are employed (which includes holiday pay).

Day relievers can ask for assistance with their travel costs: either the cost of public transport to and from the school (whether they use it or choose to use a car) or, if they are asked to use their cars or if there is no public transport available, at the mileage rate in Appendix D for every km above 20 km they travel on the day. (STCA 7.7.1 and Appendix D 1.5, ASTCA 6.6.1 and Appendix 1.5.)

The requirement to act as a good employer applies to employment of day relievers.

Efficient practices and good employer activities

  • Having processes for contacting day relievers and keeping up-to-date lists of those available
  • Giving as much notice as possible of the need for the relief cover
  • Having one person as the go-to person for day relief matters with a second senior leader familiar with the processes as a backup.
  • Advising the relievers of the classes they are to cover as far ahead of time as possible so that they can make appropriate preparations both for the day and for the specific classes (e.g. appropriate clothing/footwear if they are covering a PE class etc.). 
  •  Advise the relievers of any health and safety issues they should be aware of (e.g. students with medical issues, etc).
  • Having an induction/information sheet that is updated as needed and which includes the details they will need to have of general school operations, e.g. timetable hours for each day, processes for dealing with problems - who to contact, what the school practices are, expectations about form time, etc.
  • Introducing new relievers to the staff when they first relieve
  • Inviting your regular day relievers to PLD events, social activities etc. and see if they want a copy of the staff/parent newsletter sent to them to keep updated with what's happening. 
  • Asking for feedback from the relievers about how the school/department could help them in their relieving work.
  • Identifying which relievers the school will take responsibility for appraisal (for certification purposes) and ensure that there is a process for their appraisal and that this has been done (note that it may be the responsibility of another person in the senior leadership team or amongst the HoDs to actually do the appraisal).

Using part time teachers for additional relief

Part time teachers can be asked if they wish to temporarily increase their hours for the fortnight to add relief cover to their normal hours.

When using part time teachers to cover relief classes, part 4.5.2 of the STCA or 3.26.2 of the ASTCA applies. The school records a temporary increase in their fortnightly hours of employment and they are paid at their normal rate for the increased hours.

Using teaching staff as relievers

The collective agreement requires that each fulltime teacher has no more than 20 hours contact (less any additional time allowances they have) and that each part time teacher receives the minimum number of non-contact hours that they are entitled to. They cannot be required to forgo non-contact if they are receiving only the minimum requirement. Generally teachers will be willing to help when a school has a genuine reason for asking them to cover relief. When a teacher agrees to do relief in their non-contact time the school is then required to agree with them a compensatory mechanism with them. A range of acceptable compensatory mechanisms should be listed in the school's timetable policy.

Requests to provide relief should be fair and reasonable, for genuine reasons and allocated evenly, giving as much advance notice as possible.

Genuine reasons for asking a teacher to forgo their non-contact for relief cover are:

  • sudden emergencies when there is no chance of finding alternative cover in time
  • the school having actively tried to find a day reliever and been unable to do so

Good practice when asking teachers to cover relief

Examples of good practice include:

  • Limiting the use of internal relief as much as possible.
  • Sharing the relief as evenly as possible.
  • Sending a thankyou note to the reliever.
  • Identifying (and warning the relevant staff early in the year) of 'choke points' in the timetable that could potentially see a few people asked hit repeatedly in those times.
  • The person in charge of relief maintaining a record of how many hours each teacher has done in day relief and monitor that the relief cover (where it does occur) is shared as evenly as possible.
  • The person responsible for the relief management having delegated authority to agree to one/some of the compensatory mechanisms listed in the school timetable policy.
  • The person designated keeping a record of the compensations and when they will be taken (e.g. if it is time in lieu relief cover how many hours are accrued and when they are used).
  • Including a record of relief cover as part of the report back by the principal to the board each year. This would include the use of paid day relievers and the use of internal relief (not the names, just the extent to which it has been used). This is to help them determine whether the funding they are allocating for relief is generally sufficient.

Further good practice around end of the year relief

Relief is contact time so it can be assigned when the teacher would otherwise have had a class without requiring a compensatory mechanism. Their timetabled non-contact times should be left.

This is most likely to be the case at the end of the year when senior classes are gone. However, as teachers will have planned their work year in anticipation of having the time free at that point in the year to do a range of other work. Being given unexpected relief at the end of the year can be a point of frustration. 

Some practices which will protect goodwill include:

  • Having a statement in the timetable policy about relief when normally scheduled classes are absent.
  • Reminding people with senior classes at the start of the year that they may be called on at the end of the year for relief and to plan accordingly.
  • Providing as much notice as possible of the actual relief to assist teachers with their work planning. 
  • Asking teachers and HoDs after seniors have gone to identify in advance any particular times when they should not be called on for relief (e.g. planned department activities, meetings booked with outside agents, scheduled work with PRCs etc.).
  • Considering (though not a formally required compensation if relief is in normally timetabled contact periods) if and how the school can recognise the relief (e.g. can those who do it be exempt from some meetings?).

PPTA branch support for day relievers

Day relievers’ should be asked if they wish to be PPTA members.

The school should advise the branch chairperson of who the day relievers are and let the day relievers know how to contact the branch chairperson.

Branches should ensure that day relievers are welcomed as members, that they know where to go for support and that they are supported in ensuring that they are receiving both their contractual entitlements and also are provided with the kinds of support and professional treatment outlined in this guide.

Ensure they are invited to branch meetings and activities (if members) and get copies of any branch communications.

Informal cover

None of the above applies in cases where teachers have an agreement amongst themselves to cover classes for each other.

Further resources:

Cost to schools of approving leave and hiring day relief ( 

Day relievers ( 

Last modified on Sunday, 30 August 2020 17:10