Surplus staffing

Surplus staffing for teachers can happen when a school closes, when two or more schools merge, when there are changes within a school, such as a subject no longer being offered, or when a school’s staffing entitlement has reduced because it has a declining roll.

A principal’s position can be disestablished when a school closes or merges with another school.

Other staff positions may reduce because of a review or reorganisation at the school.

It’s really important that school boards manage surplus staffing situations carefully and considerately. You must meet all the legal requirements, which are quite complex, so we suggest you seek advice from NZSTA (New Zealand School Trustees Association) to make sure you meet all your obligations.

If you have a surplus staffing situation at your school, you must consult with all staff who may be affected. This includes:

  • telling them that there is a surplus staffing process underway
  • keeping them up to date as the process progresses
  • working closely with staff whose roles may be altered or disestablished.

Read about surplus staffing for:

Teachers

Your first step is to try to reduce staff numbers without disestablishing a permanent position. For instance, you can decide not to replace staff who resign or retire, and/or not renew fixed-term agreements. This is called attrition.

If you still need to disestablish a permanent teaching position, you must work with each affected teacher to explore redeployment or retraining. The board will need to pay the reasonable costs of teachers attending relevant interviews.

These requirements are set out in the collective agreements.

Primary teachers

If you need to disestablish a primary teacher’s position, you can redeploy them in your school or another school (with that board’s agreement) for 30 school weeks (40 in some cases). You can also pay them for up to 30 weeks while they retrain to upgrade their skills.

If you and the teacher decide that these options are not suitable, you can offer them a severance payment or, if they have more than 25 years’ service, a long service payment.

Area school and secondary teachers

If you need to disestablish an area school or secondary teacher’s position, you can redeploy them in your school or another school (with that board’s agreement) for 30 school weeks, or 40 weeks in a school merger or closure. You can also pay them for up to 40 weeks while they retrain to upgrade their skills.

If you and the teacher decide that these options are not suitable, you can offer them a severance payment or, if they have more than 25 years’ service, a long service payment.

Principals

If your principal’s position is disestablished through merger or closure, you need to make sure you meet the provisions in the collective agreement.

Primary principals

You can redeploy a primary principal as a teacher on their principal’s salary for 30 weeks in your school or another school (with that board’s agreement). You can also pay them for up to 30 weeks while they retrain on a course approved by the Ministry.

If you and the principal decide that these options are not suitable, you can offer them a severance payment of:

  • 3 months’ base salary for up to 3 years’ service
  • 4 months’ base salary for 3 to 5 years’ service
  • 6 months’ base salary for service of 5 years or more.

The principal must give you 3 months’ notice if they wish to receive the severance payment.

If the principal has more than 25 years’ service, he or she may be eligible for a long service payment of 6 months’ base salary plus one week’s base salary for each complete year of service, up to a maximum of one year’s base salary.

If the principal gets a long service payment and takes up work in the education sector during the period that the payment covers, they will have to refund some of the payment.

Area school and secondary principals

If an area school or secondary principal’s position is being disestablished, you must give them 3 months’ written notice. During this time, you must support them to find another position, including covering the costs of attending relevant interviews and helping with removal expenses.

If the principal turns down a suitable position, you have no further obligations.

If the principal doesn’t find a suitable position in the 3 months, they can choose:

  • redeployment as a teacher on their principal’s salary for 40 weeks in your school or another school (with that board’s agreement)
  • retraining on a course approved by the Ministry for 40 school weeks at their principal’s salary
  • a lump sum severance payment.

The severance payment is calculated as:

  • 3 months’ base salary for up to 3 years’ service
  • 4 months’ base salary for 3 to 5 years’ service
  • 6 months’ base salary for service of 5 years or more.

If the principal has more than 25 years’ service, they can get a long service payment of 6 months’ base salary plus one week’s base salary for each complete year of service, up to a maximum of one year’s base salary.

If the principal gets a long service payment and takes up work in the education sector during the period that the payment covers, they will have to refund some of the payment.

Other staff

Other staff in schools are covered by various employment agreements.

Each employment agreement sets out what you need to do for those employees in a surplus staffing situation. You need to make sure you check the agreement and seek advice.

There are specific surplus staffing requirements for:

Other school staff have more similar provisions and these are set out in their collective agreements.

  • support staff - clause 10.2
  • caretakers and cleaners - appendix B
  • secondary and area school groundstaff - appendix C
  • kaiarahi i te reo, therapists, ATSSD and special education assistants - part 10

This information explains what you need to do when surplus staffing results from a school reorganisation or review. The requirements for a school merger are set out in the Support Staff in Schools' Collective Agreement - part 10.3.

Giving notice

The table shows the minimum notice periods for telling affected staff about:

  • a possible surplus staffing situation
  • their position being disestablished.
Notice givenNon-teaching staff, except secondary and area school ground staffSecondary and area school ground staff
Notice of possible surplus staffing At least one month before you issue any notice of termination resulting from surplus staffing At least 6 weeks before you issue any notice of termination resulting from surplus staffing
Notice of termination One month One month

 

Process

During the notice period, you will need to work with affected staff to explore solutions such as:

  • attrition, which is the gradual and natural reduction of staff
  • offering an alternative position in the school with terms and conditions that are no less favourable – this may involve retraining.

You should only consider disestablishing a position if the surplus can’t be absorbed by attrition and an alternative position isn’t available.

If there is only one position in the occupational category where there will be a disestablishment, you must give that staff member one month’s written notice of termination.

If there is more than one position in the area where there will be a disestablishment, you must internally advertise the remaining positions and give all affected staff the opportunity to apply.

For example, if a school has 2 permanent library assistant positions but needs to disestablish one, it must internally advertise the remaining position so both staff members have the opportunity to apply.

The appointment will be made on merit, and the unsuccessful applicant will get one month’s written notice of termination.

Alternative employment

Helping an affected staff member find alternative employment includes providing reasonable paid time to attend job interviews.

A reasonable offer of alternative employment will be for a position that is in the same location, or within reasonable commuting distance, has similar duties, and has terms and conditions that are no less favourable.

If the alternative employment has reduced hours, the staff member will be entitled to a partial redundancy payment.

The staff member is eligible for redundancy if you cannot offer suitable employment before the end of their notice period.

Redundancy

Staff covered by the Support Staff, Caretakers’ and Cleaners’, Secondary and Area Schools' Groundstaff, or the Kaiarahi i te Reo, Therapists', ATSSD and Special Education Assistants' collective agreements are entitled to a redundancy payment of 6 weeks’ pay for the first year of service, plus 2 weeks’ pay for every subsequent year or part year of service, up to a maximum of 30 weeks’ pay.

This is calculated on the higher of:

  • gross weekly earnings at the last day of service
  • average gross weekly earnings over the previous 12 months’ service.

For more information on redundancy clauses for the above support staff groups (including notice periods), please check the relevant collective agreement.

Special residential school non-teaching staff

Surplus staffing provisions are in clause 8.4 of the Special Residential Schools' Collective Agreement.

Before starting any formal review that may affect non-teaching staff, the board of a special residential school must advise the Public Service Association (PSA) of the review and offer the PSA the opportunity to be involved. If the review results in a change or reduction in non-teaching staff positions, you must consult with the PSA and affected staff about reconfirmation or reassignment.

Reconfirmation means the staff member takes up a position at the school that:

  • has the same or very nearly the same job description
  • is at the same salary
  • has terms and conditions that are no less favourable
  • is in the same location or within reasonable commuting distance.

Reassignment means the staff member takes up a position similar to their previous position. If the new position has a lower salary, the staff member's salary can be preserved by paying a lump sum based on the loss of salary over the next two years.

Any affected staff who are not reconfirmed or reassigned are declared surplus. You must advise the PSA who the surplus staff are and when they will need to leave their employment.

The board, the PSA and the affected staff member will work together to explore options such as leave without pay, retraining or redeployment. If these are not suitable, the staff member is entitled to severance pay.

The severance pay calculation involves a number of factors, including when the staff member was appointed to the school (before or after 1 May 1996), and their length of service at the school. Please check clause 8.5 of the collective agreement.

Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu support and specialist staff

Surplus staffing provisions are in clause 8.3 of the Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu Specialist and Support Staff Collective Agreement.

When facing a surplus staffing situation, the board must first consult with the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) about a suitable time frame for the surplus staffing process. You also need to work with affected staff to consider retraining or redeployment options.

An affected staff member can be redeployed to a suitable alternative position. A suitable alternative position is one that:

  • requires duties that are reasonable for the staff member’s skills, abilities and employment history and may include on-the-job training
  • has terms and conditions that are no less favourable
  • is at the same location or in reasonable commuting distance
  • doesn’t place an unreasonable imposition on the staff member’s personal circumstances.

If the alternative position has lower pay, you will need to negotiate a salary protection package with the staff member, for a period of up to 2 years.

You must give at least one month’s notice to a staff member who is to be redeployed. During the notice period, you must work with the staff member to help them find other employment. This includes allowing reasonable paid time to attend interviews.

The staff member will be made redundant if they cannot be redeployed.

You must give the staff member a minimum of one month’s written notice of the redundancy, or ensure the redundancy payment includes one month’s pay in lieu of notice.

Other components of the redundancy package depend on the length of continuous service and the staff member’s number of dependants, if any. Check clause 8.4 of the collective agreement for full details.

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