Do teachers REALLY get paid for the holidays?

Every teacher has heard it before. 

Sure, your job is difficult. Sure, the rates of burnout for teachers are unreasonably high. Sure, the pay for teachers often doesn’t reflect all the work that they do. 

But don’t you get paid for the holidays?

You get 12 weeks off every year! Technically you’re part-time!

How true is this? And if you’re a teacher, what’s the best way to respond?

Common questions teachers are asked:

Do you get paid for the holidays?

Not all of the time

As a new contract teacher, I wasn’t paid during the holidays. In many states in Australia, this is standard. 

Because I was on a short-term contract (for a single school year at a time), I wouldn’t get paid during the holidays. 

Now that I’ve got an ongoing position in a school, I do get my pay cheque during the holiday periods, but I also get paid at a lower rate to compensate for this.

See more: The #1 Trick to Winning Your First Teaching Contract

Getting paid as a casual teacher

Many teachers are doing relief teaching. While there’s often a lot of work for a relief teacher during the term, there is no chance of any work during the holidays. 

Relief teachers need to make sure they budget and save money so their bills can be paid over the break. 

All teachers in Australia have similar holiday periods, and their pay reflects this.

The part-time argument may work if you were the only teacher with school holidays and were being paid at the same rate as a teacher who didn’t. For example, if you were being paid $65 000 per year and had three times the amount of holiday time as another teacher who was also getting paid $65 000, this would make sense.

See more: How to Increase Your Salary as a Teacher

When every teacher gets these holidays, their pay reflects this. If you want to think of teaching as a part-time job, go for it. But then you need to understand that this means that teacher time is worth far more than teachers are currently paid. 

Also, if this is the case, a teacher can’t be full-time. If you can’t work any more, surely it’s full-time work.

See more: 3 Skills that All Principals Look For in a Relief Teacher

Do you get a lot of time off?

Work needs to be done during the holidays

The thing about teaching is that there is always more work that can be done. More differentiation for the students, better-refined lesson plans, parents to contact and admin to do. 

A lot of this needs to be done during the term, which means that anything that isn’t an immediate priority gets pushed to the holidays.

Many teachers spend the holidays planning their entire next term because they know they won’t get the time to do it during the term. As a senior teacher, many mid-year breaks will likely be taken up with marking. 

Doing overtime

Aside from the holidays themselves, teachers do a lot of unpaid overtime during the term. Marking often is pushed to the weekends, and most of the teachers I know are planning their lessons for the week on a Sunday evening. 

There are also always extra-curricular activities to organise and attend after school, meetings with parents and professional learning to do. Teaching spills into personal time all the time, and many make up those hours away from school during the term.

See more: How to Pick a Realistic Side-Hustle as a Teacher

How teachers should respond

Realise that many people are just jealous

They see you being able to be away from work more often than them, and they get jealous. This is an emotional reaction, and they often don’t think (or don’t understand) what this means. 

See more: Why Teacher Well-Being is the Most Important Factor in Student Success

Many people don’t understand the job of teachers

Teaching is an intense profession. Ask them how they would feel if they had to run five hour-long meetings back-to-back every day. Additionally, the people attending these meetings don’t want to be there, and you will have to wrestle some of them to get their work done. You’ll also need to prepare a brand new slide show for every single meeting, and make sure that all thirty attendees have work to do during and after the meeting that is suited to their strengths and interests

They would likely need to take stress leave at the same rate that teachers get holidays.

Unfortunately, many teachers have learnt that they must be selective about who they talk to about their jobs. Many people don’t understand it, and the best way to deal with these questions is to have the facts in your head and smile and laugh if you don’t want a fight.

Elise is an enthusiastic and passionate Australian teacher who is on a mission to inspire and support fellow educators. With over a decade of experience in the classroom, Elise leverages her expertise and creativity to provide valuable insights and resources through her blog. Whether you're looking for innovative lesson ideas, effective teaching strategies, or just a dose of inspiration, Elise has got you covered.

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