Teachers in Victoria will receive back payments totalling more than $37 million as a result of orders made in a landmark case today. Orders handed down by the Federal Court of Australia this morning will see approximately 46,000 teachers and principals receive back payment from the State Government after unlawful deductions were made from their wages for laptop computers.
"Laptop computers are essential equipment for teachers and principals," said Meredith Peace, president of AEU Victoria. "This was a matter we had to pursue.
"Expecting teachers to pay out of their own pockets for a computer that they use to write school reports, communicate with parents and other teachers, and plan lessons is absolutely unfair.
“We must attract and retain the best teachers and principals in our public school system and providing them with the equipment they need to support the learning and welfare of all students is essential."
The Federal Court found the Victorian Government made unlawful deductions from teachers’ and principals’ salaries in contravention of the Fair Work Act, by requiring them to pay for access to the Education Department’s laptops directly out of wages.
Teachers and principals currently employed by the Department of Education who had money unlawfully deducted from their wages will be repaid by the 24 December 2015, including a 5% interest payment. Former employees who participated in the program will have repayments made by 31 March, 2016.
The Fair Work Act provides that an employer can only make deductions from an employee’s salary in limited circumstances.
"Today's orders mean 50,000 teachers and principals will receive the recompense they deserve for having these deductions made from their salary, and ensure nothing like this happens in the future."