Teachers need leave for all sorts of reasons. Some are covered in their collective agreements but, unlike other professions, teachers cannot use annual leave to cover anything else. Instead, they can apply under ASTCA Part 5 or STCA Part 6 Other Forms of Leave.
One specifically mentioned type of leave is that of cultural leave (STCA 6.6.5/ASTCA 5.6.5). The term cultural has become synonymous with reference to a person's adherence to a way of living as recognised by a wider society. However, in the collective agreements, reference to Cultural Leave has a different meaning.
Cultural in this context is referring to the arts. In the same way that sports leave is granted for those who are representing their region at national or international level, Cultural Leave is available for those who are participating in approved events that are artistic in nature, such as a performance, competition, or exhibition. Other types of activities can also be considered. Such activities need to be organised by a recognised national or international body.
While Cultural Leave is with pay, the school is not responsible for any other costs such as travel, meals, or accommodation. The special leave provisions apply to full-time permanent, fixed-term full-time, and long-term relieving teachers.
Where does that leave a teacher's culture?
So, what about leave request to meet the needs of a teacher's culture? There are several clauses that address these.
The Important Family and Other Occasions clause recognises the participation in milestone life events. STCA 6.5.5/ASTCA 5.5.5 includes weddings, ordinations, investitures, adoptions and gold or diamond anniversaries. Those of the Jewish faith can also apply for leave for Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur and leave for special events for followers of other faiths can be applied for under STCA 6.8/ASTCA 5.8 Other Forms for Leave.
Bereavement/Tangihanga is covered by STCA 6.4/ ASTCA 5.3. It is worth noting that STCA 6.4(f) and ASTCA 5.3(f) state leave without pay should be granted if paid special leave is not applicable.
Ngā Manu Kōrero, Kapa Haka, and Polyfest are covered by clauses STCA3.6, 3.6A/ASTCA 2.17 with specific provisions of relief days and travel cost that teachers can apply for.
Meetings of Māori authorities/organisations are covered under STCA 6.6.8(b)/ASTCA 5.6.7(b) while attending Pōwhiri representing whānau, hapu, iwi and marae are covered by a catch-all clause, STCA 6.8/ASTCA 5.8 Other Forms of Leave. This can be used for leave that is not otherwise mentioned in the collective agreements.
Upholding Te Tiriti is constantly evolving
Of course, upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi in practice is constantly evolving in recognition of the current conditions of modern life. While all events significant to Māori will not fall under Cultural Leave the board can recognise their importance under the clauses mentioned above and grant discretionary leave with or without pay.
For Māori members the employer needs to consider STCA 6.8/ASTCA 5.8 Other Forms of Leave alongside good employer provisions.
These provisions reference the State Sector Act on being a good employer (STCA 3.1.1/ASTCA 2.1.1) and recognising the employment requirements of Māori (STCA 3.1.2). Advice developed by PPTA and NZSTA is available in the booklet Guidelines to Assist Boards of Trustees to Meet Their Good Employer Obligations to Māori.
And finally, a reminder that leave without pay may affect holiday pay.