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Australia

Schoolteachers in Victoria will be able to take a year's sabbatical leave on 80 per cent of their salary if they accept proposals from the state government.

The state's 35,000 schoolteachers will have the chance to take one year off in five as a sabbatical. But they will have to work for four-fifths of their original salary for four years to take the fifth year as leave at the same wage.

The plan is part of the Victorian government's attempt to introduce promotion and pay rises on merit, rather than on seniority. Instead of guaranteed annual salary increases as at present, teachers will be subject to performance reviews by their principals which could result in faster promotion. Teacher unions oppose the government's plans and have told their members not to participate in the scheme. The unions are seeking a new career structure under a federal rather than a state award.

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