Pay and conditions

Understanding the pay and conditions for early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals can be complex, so this page provides an overview of how it works in NSW.

Industrial relations landscape in NSW

Unlike public schools, the Department of Education is not the main employer of ECEC professionals in NSW. Only approximately 2% of the ECEC workforce are employed by the NSW Government.

Private employers employ the majority of ECEC professionals under the relevant modern awards. Modern awards are determined by the Fair Work Commission, which is an independent national workforce tribunal.

The Fair Work Commission operates at the national level and is subject to Commonwealth legislation.

Determining the pay and conditions for ECEC professionals

An individual's minimum pay and conditions depends on their location, qualifications, level of experience, and the type of work being done. Minimum wages for the majority of ECEC professionals are set by their modern award.

Modern awards are set by the Fair Work Commission.

Service providers can choose to pay above award minimums at any time on an individual or role-by-role basis. Providers also have the option of negotiating pay increases and changes to working conditions through the creation of an Enterprise Agreement.

Identifying your award

There are multiple awards across both Commonwealth and State jurisdictions that could apply to ECEC professionals. The service type, type of work, and qualifications will determine which award applies to which role.

If you are employed by either state or local government in NSW, you are likely to be covered by a NSW Award.

The 5 most common modern (Commonwealth) awards include:

  1. Children’s Services Award: This is divided into Children’s Services Employees and Support Workers involved in ECEC services. Roles covered under Children’s Services Employees include but are not limited to educator, room leader and directors. Roles covered under Support Workers include but are not limited to administrative roles, cleaners, gardeners, and bus drivers.
  2. Education Services (Teachers) Award: This covers teachers in the school and early childhood education sectors, where the Department is not the employer. Roles include but are not limited to qualified teachers, unqualified teachers working in a registered school, and teachers appointed as directors of services.
  3. Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award: This covers national system employers throughout Australia. This tends to include preschools and early childhood services operated by a school. Roles include but are not limited to teacher’s aide, childcare assistant, outside school hours assistant, cleaning and maintenance roles, kitchen assistant, childcare worker, assistant director and director.
  4. Miscellaneous Award: Some people employed in the national system providing family day care, family-based day care or caring for children in the carer’s home are covered by this Award.
  5. SCHADS Award: This mainly applies to people employed in the family day care scheme sector.

The NSW based awards include:

  1. Crown Employees (Teachers in Schools and Related Employees) Salaries and Conditions Award 2022 (Teachers Award): This Award applies to ‘Teachers’, who are defined as ‘a person or officer employed permanently or temporarily in a full time or part time teaching position, other than at the Secondary College of Languages, under the provisions of the Teaching Service Act and appointed to a school.’ As such, the Teachers Award applies to all teachers employed by the NSW Government (via the department) in schools. The Teachers Award is negotiated with the NSW Teacher’s Federation.
  2. Crown Employees (School Administrative and Support Staff) Award 2022 (Support Staff Award): This Award applies to ‘School Administrative and Support Staff’, which is defined as and includes persons employed as Aboriginal Education Officers, Business Managers, School Administrative Officers, School Administrative Managers, School Learning Support Officers (Pre-School), School Learning Support Officers (Vision Support, Hearing Support, Bilingual) and School Learning Support Officers (Student Health Support). The Support Staff Award is negotiated with the Public Service Association and Professional Officers’ Association Amalgamated Union of New South Wales (PSA).
  3. Local Government (State) Award:This Award applies to employees of local government employers, including employees of Councils that directly operate childcare services and employ the workers.

Unlike modern awards, NSW awards are negotiated approximately every 2 years and are similar to an Enterprise Agreement.

Following a successful application by the Unions to the Fair Work Commission, a process called multi-employer bargaining is being explored in the ECEC sector. The aim of this work is to set a new standard for pay and conditions in long day care services across Australia, and may then be explored for other service types. The Commonwealth Government has been asked to take part in the negotiations. Learn more about the multi-employer bargaining process at the Fair Work Commission's website.

NSW Government support

As one of our top priorities, the NSW Government is committed to working with the Commonwealth Government, and peak bodies, to contribute to changes that improve pay and conditions for ECEC professionals. In the meantime, the NSW Government is delivering many short-term initiatives to financially assist ECEC workers with the cost of study and professional development.

Such initiatives include the NSW Government supporting early childhood teachers to upskill and earn more through scholarships, skills programs, accelerated pathways, and other wraparound supports. There is also work underway to lift service working conditions, particularly through leadership and management support, professional development, and mentoring programs


  • Early childhood education


  • Early learning

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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