1. All teachers employed by the Ministry of Education (“MOE”) are entitled to such paid leave as set out in the General Orders (2011 Edition), which is applicable to all civil servants including teachers.
2. Pursuant to the General Orders, all civil servants (including teachers) are entitled to 3 working days of paid bereavement leave in any one leave year. This is also in accordance with the Employment Relations Act 2007 (“Act”), which requires all employers to provide all workers, including those employed in the private sector, with 3 working days of paid bereavement leave.
3. While some nations call their respective bereavement policies by other names (Australia, for example, requires all employers to provide 2 total days of what it calls “compassionate and bereavement leave”), Fiji’s General Orders label its 3 paid leave days only as bereavement.
4. While mandating a nationwide paid bereavement policy that is already generous by international standards, the General Orders do not require that employers provide separate compassionate leave days to any civil servant, including any teacher. This is the case for all Fijian workers, from both the public and the private sectors.
5. However, contrary to the General Orders, it is noted that MOE officials have been erroneously providing all teachers with 3 working days of paid compassionate leave in addition to the 3 working days of paid bereavement leave. Given the fact that this is contrary to the General Orders, MOE has issued a circular to office heads clarifying the Ministry’s bereavement policy. All teachers will still be entitled to 3 working days of paid bereavement leave, just like all other workers in the public and private sectors.
6. It is important to highlight that given the nature of the employment which coincides with the school terms, teachers are entitled to many more paid holiday days as opposed to other civil servants and workers employed in the private sector.
7. While other civil servants are entitled to 18 or 21 working days of paid annual leave (depending on salary band) and Government wage earners such as drivers and messengers are entitled to 12 to 15 days (depending on years of service), the General Orders provide that teachers are entitled to holidays during the school holidays, which amounts to 11 weeks (or a total of 55 working days) of paid holiday, with the exclusion of those days when teachers are required to attend trainings and prepare for classes.
8. It is worth noting that the Act only provides for 10 working days of paid annual leave, and indeed, a large number of workers in the private sector only receive 10 working days of paid annual leave.
9. MOE wishes to assure all teachers that they will be provided with their proper leave entitlements as set out in the General Orders.