Before we get into to our monthly update, you may have seen our survey about workload in aged care. It’s a quick 60 second survey that will help us put pressure on the federal government to implement the Aged Care Royal Commission’s recommendations. After all, making recommendations is one thing, accepting them is another, and the clearest way to change aged care workloads is by changing the whole sector for the better. Click hereto take part.
In other news, on one hand we’ve seen some more money thrown at the sector this week while on the other hand the government refuses to allow funding transparency. While more funding is always welcome, this has been put forward only in response to the Royal Commission’s special report on COVID-19.
So, what’s on offer? $132m for infection control, mental health and allied health in aged care. This will largely be used to support resident programs in these areas, but it also underpins the lead infection control officer, which each facility should have finalised by now. If you don’t think your facility has one, please let us know.
On the other side of the ledger, the government has voted against a new bill to improve aged care funding transparency. There is almost $70 billion of taxpayer funding flowing into the sector, and yet the government has refused to support a law that would let people know how that money is being spent. In the wake of some of the lavish spending from the multimillionaire for-profit facility owners we’ve seen this year, this is clearly indefensible. This is in stark contrast to what we’ve seen in Victoria, where the state government has committed $40 million to implement nurse/carer ratios in private aged care.
This is a very important step in the right direction – with minimum staffing hours also being a key part of what the Royal Commission has been considering.
With Bupa’s late-November announcement that they’re leaving the Tasmanian aged care space, Southern Cross Care are set to take over Bupa facilities and workers’ entitlements. But we found that most workers at Bupa had very old contracts that didn’t reflect the hours they’re currently working and have been working for some time. Under SCC, they would have lost hours and money unless something was done.
We jumped in on this quickly and immediately wrote to Bupa requesting they update everyone’s contracts to accurately show the hours and pattern of work that staff had been working before the 1 December deadline for SCC taking over. We advised our members not to sign anything until we had looked over the contracts, as they could be signing away existing rights and conditions.
SCC issued new contracts that still didn’t give workers the right protections, so we raised this and requested new ones for our members – but they weren’t 100% right either, so we sent those back too. By third attempt, we negotiated something that was good enough to sign.
Remember, if you ever receive a contract or any documentation that you don’t think is legal or correct – we are here to help.
Nursing staff at Christian Homes Tasmania have an enterprise agreement, but non-nursing staff have been stuck on the Aged Care Award – so they came to HACSU to ask about getting an agreement of their own. Staff came to HACSU meetings across both of CHT’s worksites and were keen to start the process, so they have started circulating a petition to show that a majority of workers (50% +1) support having an enterprise agreement.
The next step will be writing to the employer letting them know that union members want to bargain, and then developing a log of claims (or a wish list of wages and conditions) which HACSU members will endorse and send to the employer. If the employer writes back to say they’re ready to start bargaining, a team of HACSU representatives plus union staff will start negotiating.
If CHT workers follow all the steps and the employer refuses to negotiate, HACSU can take the case to the Fair Work Commission, where a “majority support” determination will be made, forcing the employer to start negotiating.
Congratulations to CHT non-nursing workers who are moving to take negotiations for their wages and conditions into their own hands!
If you’re on the Aged Care Award and you want to start negotiating for an enterprise agreement at your workplace, get in touch with us on 1300 880 032 or firstname.lastname@example.org so we can talk about getting the process started.
HACSU recently uncovered several instances where aged care employers have underpaid staff members. In the first instance, employees at an aged care facility were working under an old agreement, and their wages had been paid at less than the Aged Care Award for several years. Employers who employ staff under an agreement must pay employees at least the award rates, and this employer hadn’t done so.
Another instance of underpayment occurred where staff members hadn’t been progressed to the correct pay points when they were eligible. This is one that often falls through the cracks. The third instance of underpayment involved an employer who hadn’t passed on the full wage increases when they were due. This added up to quite a lot of money at the end of the day.
In all of these instances, when HACSU found out about the underpayments, we brought them immediately to the employer’s attention and worked to make sure all of the staff were paid what they were owed. We also helped to put systems in place to stop underpayments happening again.
If you think you’re being underpaid, get in touch with HACSU on 1300 880 032 or email@example.com so we can look into it. We’re here to help.
Recently we have assisted some members who’ve received disciplinary letters relating to their conduct on social media websites. While our representation has saved a number of employees, you should always think twice before posting anything related to work on social media, as it’s generally classified as a public space, even when you have privacy settings set to only friends.
Sometimes groups or pages might not be private due to other people’s settings, or because other group members choose to share the content online or in person. Even if you haven’t posted the content, if it contains something identifying your employer and you comment, like or share it you may still face allegations for breaches of their social media policy.
For example, you might post a comment about a particularly bad day you’ve had with a resident – but even without mentioning the resident’s name or where they’re from, that would be enough to get you pulled in for a breach of confidentiality according to some employers’ social media policies. If you like or comment on a post like that, even that may be enough.
You have the right to a private life and to post content on social media, but you should get permission to post any content identifying your employer and be sure you’re not bullying or harassing anyone from work or breaching confidentiality. Remember, as your mother told you, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all.”
If you need any more information, just give us a call on 1300 880 032 or reply to this email.