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Being an employer – school and governing councils

When you volunteer to work on a council for a school or preschool (site) you might be an employer – or the employing authority – of non-teaching staff at the site.

What being an employer means

Employer and contracting out work – the difference

When we say ‘employer’ we’re talking about the council directly employing non-teaching staff. You will be responsible for paying them, checking their relevant history screening and ensuring their work health and safety.

When you work on a council you might also need to contract work out. There are still responsibilities involved with this. For example, when you contract a third party provider of an out of school hours care service

Who you can employ

You can employ

If your site has any of these services, the council might need to employ people for:

  • out of school hours care (OSHC) 
  • residential facilities
  • canteens
  • bus driving
  • land management
  • building and equipment maintenance
  • sports days and events that are outside usual school hours
  • cleaning facilities
  • administering awards and scholarships.

There are sample contracts available for OSHC and canteen:

You cannot employ

Your council cannot employ any teaching staff, including principals and teachers.

What you might need to do

As an employer on a council, you might:

  • be on an interview panel
  • need to assess the suitability of a service provider through a third party provider panel
  • consult with the community and assess different models for employment, including as a:
    • provider, for example an out of school hours care service
    • self-managed service, for example a canteen.

Important legal responsibilities

As the employer, you do have a wide range of responsibilities, but an important one that many councils need to be concerned about is relevant history screenings

You also have responsibility for:

  • work, health and safety
  • human resources needs, like pay and leave.

Although the council has responsibility, the site leader does the day-to-day management. The council’s responsibility is always about governance.


Governing Councils, Office for Education and Early Childhood

Phone: 8226 9617
Emaildecd.sitegovernance [at] sa.gov.au