Aged care newsletter

Posted on
December 16, 2021
in
Aged Care Sector

Your union update

Borders open – what’s the go in an outbreak?

With borders now open, we’ll probably start to see outbreaks in residential aged care facilities in Tasmania.

We’ve learned from what’s happened in other states and have been working to ensure your rights and safety are protected in the event of an outbreak.

What we’ve seen elsewhere, and will probably see at some point in Tasmania, is what’s called a “single site workforce arrangement”. This is what comes into place when the Australian Chief Medical Officer declares a government hotspot. If you live or work in an official hotspot and work for more than one aged care provider, chances are you’ll be captured. At its simplest, it means you can elect to work at one facility (your primary workplace) only and the government makes up the wages you’d get at the other. Usually, your primary workplace would be the one where you get the most hours. You’d work at this site until the single site arrangements end.

Your primary workplace needs to offer you the same hours you’d have if you work normally(across two sites). If they can’t offer you the same hours, then they should pay you for your usual hours. That means you shouldn’t be financially disadvantaged compared to your normal hours across both facilities.

While some of this may change in the event of a declaration, this is the general scenario. We know many aged care workers work across multiple facilities, and both wages are to pay the bills, so it’s important you know your rights.

Compared to other communicable diseases, there will be a lot more infection control procedures with COVID as many of you have already experienced.

There’s a new state government fact sheet here on some of this. Something to remember is that donning and doffing PPE, or fit testing it, should be in work time. More importantly, your workplace rights and conditions don’t just disappear in the event of an outbreak. If you are being made to work way outside of your scope of practice or being told to work extra long shifts, call us.

 

Worker’s safety is expected

Sometimes aged care workers have to care for residents who display aggressive and violent behaviours. Whilst the resident’s care is important, employers must also provide their workers with a safe environment.

We’ve been in contact with an aged care facility along the north west coast as they currently have a resident who is extremely aggressive towards their staff in particular to the female workers, and certain workers have already been injured.

After we met management, they’ve put in place these plans:

•  A male worker will be rostered on each shift to help deal with the resident’s care

•  Workers can walk away if the resident’s behaviour escalates, as long as the resident is not in danger of hurting himself and the worker reports this to the person in charge

•  Workers to raise all issues with their HSR and WHS committee

•  Workers to fill in incident reports, no matter how small the incident

You have a duty of care for residents, but management also has a duty of care for you. Regardless of whether you’ve been told: “ that’s just their behaviour” or “ you knew what you signed up for”,  it is important to continually raise and document workplace health and safety issues because nobody signed up to leave work in worse shape than when they arrived.

 

Knowing your rights can make a difference

With Christmas fast approaching and workers being flat out, there’s always the risk of making mistakes at work or having an accusation filed against you.

If you’re called to a meeting with management, you have the right to:

•  Ask what the meeting is about and what will be discussed

•  Have another person such as your union delegate, worksite committee member or colleague to support you, or a HACSU organiser to represent you, at the meeting

•  Receive the details of any written complaint concerning you before the meeting

•  Change a meeting time or date so someone can attend the meeting with you

•  Make notes and ask questions during the meeting

•  Request a copy of meeting notes

•  Take a reasonable time to give your response after the meeting

•  Take away any documents you’re asked to sign and seek advice from HACSU

An informal chat or an off-the-record conversation with management can result in action against you, so be very careful about what you say and to whom. If in doubt, call us immediately.

Now is the time to encourage your colleagues to join the union! A strongly unionised workplace offers the best protection for workers and gives you more of a voice on your working conditions.

HACSU membership also includes free Professional Indemnity Malpractice Insurance along with a whole host of other member benefits. If you need more information, please give us a call on

1300 880 032.

 

Your boss can’t cancel your visa

If you’re experiencing workplace exploitation or bullying, you can ask for help without fear of visa cancellation. Your boss can't cancel your visa, and they can’t threaten to cancel your visa to force you to sign a document or vote yes to a staff agreement.

All people working in Australia have the same basic minimum workplace rights and protections regardless of their citizenship and visa status. Your rights can't be taken away by contracts or agreements.

Remember that only the Department of Home Affairs can grant, refuse or cancel a visa. Both Fair Work and Home Affairs have said clearly that visa cancellation threat at workplaces is a type of workplace exploitation, so if your boss has threatened to cancel your visa, don’t fall for their scare tactics.

If you feel concerned, please talk to us – we’re here to protect the rights of all aged care workers, including migrant workers and visa holders.

 

Industrial action ballots to be sent out to SCC workers

After a successful NO vote to stop SCC’s unfair agreement, now it's time for workers to vote YES to protected industrial action against SCC.

Staff will receive a postal ballot from the Australian Electoral Commission to have their say.

We strongly recommend workers vote YES to each of the listed bans, so we can legally take industrial action to assert pressure on SCC and force them to back down on taking away workers’ current conditions and provide a fair pay rise.

We’ve also lodged an application with the Fair Work Commission to ask them to stop SCC from cutting kitchen hours at four southern facilities.

It appears SCC are trying to divide staff in an attempt to push the cuts through by saying other staff or even residents can pick up duties currently completed by kitchen staff, but we know other staff don’t even have enough time to finish their own duties. Further cuts to hours would significantly worsen the situation and put residents and workers at risk.

It’s more important than ever that aged care workers stick together and fight for your rights. If workers are divided, bad employers will get their way.

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email assist@hacsu.org.au or complete our online contact form

Aged Care Sector