Medical retirement for teachers and principals

If a secondary or area school teacher, or a principal in a secondary, primary or area school has a terminal or serious illness that means they can no longer work as a teacher or a principal, they may be eligible for medical retirement. They may apply for this, or the board can start the process.

What boards need to do

Below is a summary of the information in the collective agreements about what boards need to do if you think a teacher or principal can no longer work because of a medical condition. Please read the clauses in the collective agreements and seek independent advice if you have questions.

Area school teachers and principals, secondary teachers and primary principals – starting the process

  1. You must apply for medical retirement while the member of staff is still an employee. Medical retirement can't be granted after they resign or retire.
  2. Write to the employee. You need to:
    • outline your concerns and the reasons you think medical retirement may be an appropriate option
    • explain that they are entitled to up to three sessions from an employee assistance programme and how to access it
    • explain how the medical retirement process will proceed
    • tell them they have the right to a representative.
  3. The employee has a medical examination with a medical specialist you have nominated.
  4. The specialist needs to provide a written description of the illness and state whether or not the employee can perform their duties currently and in the foreseeable future.
  5. The employee can get a second opinion from another specialist they choose.
  6. If you or the employee can't get the opinion of a specialist, a general practitioner’s opinion may be used, but the GP will need to explain why it is not possible to get a specialist’s opinion.
  7. If the two medical opinions do not agree, you and your employee need to choose a third doctor. If you both can’t agree on who they should see, then you will nominate the doctor.
  8. You need to pay all costs of the medical practitioners and employee assistance programme.

Area school teachers and principals, secondary teachers and primary principals – next steps

If the employee has applied to you for medical retirement and the medical evidence supports their application, or if you have started the medical retirement process and the medical evidence supports your view, these are the next steps.

  1. Fill out the medical retirement form [DOC, 111 KB] and send it with the medical evidence to the Employment Relations Unit at the Ministry of Education. (This unit has the delegated authority of the Secretary for Education to give approval for medical retirement.)
  2. The Employment Relations Unit will write to you with their decision. If medical retirement is approved, the employee will be medically retired from the date of the Employment Relations Unit’s letter. You need to tell the employee of this date.
  3. Your employee can choose one of the payment options set out in their collective agreement:
  4. You can advertise and make a permanent appointment to the employee’s position from the date of the letter giving approval for medical retirement.
  5. You need to tell the New Zealand Teachers Council that the teacher or principal is leaving the teaching profession and won’t return because of health reasons.

Secondary principals

For secondary principals, boards can decide on medical retirement applications – you don’t need to send it to the Employment Relations Unit.

A secondary principal can apply for medical retirement if they have a mental or physical illness and feel that they can no longer do their job as a principal. They must apply to the board in writing and provide a medical opinion that explains their illness and how it affects their ability to work. You can ask the principal to get a second opinion from a doctor or specialist you choose.

You can start the medical retirement process if the board members believe the principal can’t carry out their duties because of a mental or physical illness. The principal will need to have a medical examination by a doctor or specialist you choose. The principal can also get a second opinion from a doctor or specialist they choose.

You can stand down the principal while the medical retirement process is going on.

Clause 7.1.5 of the Secondary Principals’ Collective Agreement sets out the two ways the principal’s payment can be calculated. The larger amount is paid.

Board chairs need to complete a NOVO6 form (external link) and tell the payroll clerk which option the principal chose.

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