Wellbeing (for workers) in the holidays and beyond

Jill Cavanough, Industrial Officer at the AEU discusses the importance of wellbeing both inside and outside the classroom.

ACTION: Members can contact the AEU Information Unit on 8172 6300 or at [email protected] for advice about their rights at work
It’s not news that student wellbeing is fundamental to successful engagement and achievement. Speaking about wellbeing for adults, though, is somewhat trickier, conjuring images of Byron Bay naturopaths and green smoothies. But wellbeing is important.   

Wellbeing for workers isn’t just about rest, meditation, and yoga. Professional recognition, relationships, participation, and respect all play a part. And maintaining your wellbeing at work is not only your responsibility. Under Work Health and Safety law your employer also has responsibility for your welfare and wellbeing as a worker.  

Since your wellbeing at work affects how you feel outside work, this responsibility extends to your mental health outside of the workplace, times when you are away from the site. Like weekends and holidays, which are thankfully fast approaching.  

Staff wellbeing is a topical issue, currently on most workplaces’ radars. However, it’s hard to see what’s being done about it within educational settings. For example, has anyone read the Department for Education’s Employee Metal Health and Wellbeing Procedure? Probably not?  

"Staff wellbeing is a topical issue, currently on most workplaces’ radars. However, it’s hard to see what’s being done about it within educational settings."
This procedure lists workplace psychological hazards, which are common in education sites and must be controlled (but mostly aren’t) under the Work Health and Safety Act. This is far from adequate.  

How about the school staff who were required to stay back until 5pm for wellbeing workshops! Wellness box ticked. Yet, activities like this often leave staff furious. Wellbeing at work isn’t something that exists in isolation to the rest of your life, it is your life. It’s informed and influenced by everything that happens at work. 

Here are steps you can take to help you look after your wellbeing when you return to work in 2023

1. Commit to being involved in the 2023 Enterprise Bargaining campaign.  

2. Know your rights via the Enterprise Agreement/s  

3. Read the DfE’s Employee Metal Health and Wellbeing Procedure to find the psychological hazards, including excess workload, that our employers should be controlling.  

4. List by priority what needs to change to improve your wellbeing. How many of your colleagues would feel the same?  

5. Discuss wellbeing with your colleagues in week zero and devise a 2023 wellbeing action plan.  

6. Arrange to elect a union representative and think about putting your hand up to help. Make sure you have a Health and Safety Representative (HSR). 
The upcoming year is the ideal time to work with fellow members to hold our employers to account for our wellbeing. After all, doing it together is so much more effective and rewarding than going on your own.