Retention allowance payments slow for some NETs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 July, 2006, 12:00am

Difficult principals or red tape at schools have delayed the incentives to about 5pc of eligible teachers

Some native English-speaking teachers have not received new retention allowances to which they are entitled because of processing problems in schools, NETs have claimed.

The payments were introduced in November last year in a package to address a recruitment crisis in the NET scheme. NETs with at least three years of service get 5 per cent of salary and it is 10 per cent for those with five years or more of service.

Under an Education and Manpower Bureau scheme, NETs receive the cash in 12 monthly payments over the year leading up to the date they become eligible. Payments for this year are back-dated to August last year and the application process began in March.

According to the Native English-speaking Teachers' Association, applications from about 400 NETs had been agreed by the EMB by early May, but about 8 per cent of those eligible were still waiting to have their cases processed.

Perry Bayer, spokesman for its special allowance and gratuity committee, said that for about 5 per cent of eligible NETs it was because 'principals may have been difficult' or there had been red tape in schools.

'We have had a minority of principals who have been misunderstanding the EMB's intention and have been trying to unilaterally raise the bar for NETs getting the incentive payment,' he said. 'We have heard that some principals are trying to impose extra appraisals as a prerequisite for getting the retention incentive. And we have heard of a principal trying to get NETs to do an extra job, like setting up an English corner, for getting it.

'We would urge any NETs who are still having problems to get in touch with the EMB or Nesta.'

Mr Bayer said the root of the problem was an EMB circular to principals that said the payment was subject to NETs' performance. This had been clarified in a further question-and-answer document as meaning that the payment had to be given to any NET who had passed their appraisal.

'What we want them to do is remove the clause and to have a tick-box on which principals can indicate whether a NET's performance is satisfactory or not,' he said.

The package, which included setting the NETs' special allowance at $12,950 - close to its former level of $13,000 - followed a six-month campaign led by the Nesta committee for restoration of the full allowance after it was cut to $10,500 in 2004. The increase was back-dated to August last year for all NETs.

Nesta is continuing its fight for the special allowance to be back-dated to August 2004 for NETs who had their contracts renewed in 2004, after the EMB turned down the request in May. Lee Weston, who is leading the initiative, secured a meeting with the Professional Teachers' Union yesterday to discuss the NETs' demands.