Aged care newsletter

Posted on
January 31, 2022
Aged Care Sector

As COVID continues to cause havoc at facilities across Tasmania, we’ve been dealing with some employers who think COVID means they can tell workers to do pretty much anything. Thankfully, some employers are doing the right thing or fixing issues promptly when we raise them. But others are using COVID as an excuse to exploit workers who are already stretched thin and exhausted. Keep reading below to find out more about second jobs, RATs, PPE, and 12-hour shifts, plus the new rules on isolation that are changing by the day.


COVID is no excuse to make it up

Some employers are pushing the envelope at the moment and hiding some dodgy stuff under the COVID banner. Some aged care workers have been told that they can’t have a second job and this is a “government directive”. This is wrong. There is no government directive, and your boss shouldn’t lie about it. Aged care workers don’t get paid enough to be told that they can’t work elsewhere.

Some workers have been asked to “volunteer” for short shifts or 12-hour shifts. While this may suit some genuine volunteers, you can’t be made to work short shifts or 12-hours shifts – it goes against your agreement or the award.

If you are running into the above issues, it’s important that you know your rights and get in touch with us for help.


Do you have to come to work earlier for COVID tests?

Some aged care facilities have started to regularly provide their workers with a RAT prior to the commencement of shifts. In order to do this, some employers have requested that workers come to work earlier to get tested. This is a definite no. If employers direct you to start 15 minutes before a shift, you need to be paid for that 15 minutes.

A group of aged care employers have suggested to the government that workers have a test at home prior to coming to work. If RATs are already supplied to workers, there could be some discussions about the pros and cons to this, but it’s all theoretical until the RATs actually turn up.

What are your thoughts about this? Let us know by contacting HACSUassist.


PPE, breaks and overtime

Much like with RATs, if your employer requires you to come in early or stay late to put on PPE, this should be paid time.

A small handful of employers are allowing for hourly PPE breaks. Your agreements and the award also specify tea or workplace health & safety breaks. The award – which applies if you don’t have a workplace agreement – says that if you’re working a full shift (7.6 hours or more), you get two 10-minute breaks in addition to your meal breaks. If you are working a shorter shift longer than 4 hours, you get one 10-minute break. While getting meal breaks covered can be hard enough at times, don’t forget these breaks are the perfect opportunity to hydrate and get a break from facial PPE if you can.

We will soon be contacting aged care providers across the state to make sure your health and safety are being protected.

On overtime, if you are doing work that would normally be overtime, nothing is different because of COVID. If your boss say they can play flat rate now, this is nonsense. If in doubt, you should confirm it’s overtime before staying back.


Managing COVID and what you need to know

For those workers who test positive or are close contacts and are unsure what to do, here are the key items from the latest COVID direction that came into effect on 21 January:

•  For a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is reasonably suspected of having the COVID-19 virus, the exclusion period from entering a residential aged care facility is reduced from 14 days to 7 days if they have experienced no symptoms within those 7 days

•  Staff who were a close contact may return to work on day 8, after 7 days of isolation or quarantine, if:

- They have received a negative RAT or PCR test result from a test taken on day 6; and

- They live with a confirmed COVID-19 case, have been able to maintain appropriate separation in the household; and

- Have no symptoms

•  Staff who were confirmed positive withCOVID-19 may return to work on day 8, after 7 days of isolation or quarantine, if:

- They live with a confirmed COVID-19 case, have been able to maintain appropriate separation in the household; and

- Have no symptoms

•  Everyone is still to wear a surgical mask and undertake entering screening requirements


Southern Cross Care dispute

We are currently in dispute with SCC about their planned cuts to staffing in the serveries at Fairway Rise, Rosary Gardens, Sandown and Guilford Young Grove.

We know it is unworkable and unsafe, and they can’t provide residents with a better service by cutting hours to already understaffed facilities and expecting already-overworked staff to do more. But SCC refused to change their position and kept ignoring the staffing and workload issues we’ve raised repeatedly.

Since we’ve taken this issue to the Fair Work Commission, SCC played their dodgy no-show tactics twice at both the FWC conference and the meeting with us scheduled before the conference. They also have broken their promise to provide information about what would happen to the work currently conducted in the hours they are proposing to cut.

It’s frustrating that SCC are dragging things out and refusing to listen to their workers, but we’ll continue to fight against the cuts, and SCC can’t implement any changes before the dispute is solved at Fair Work.

As we keep fighting for aged care workers, thank you for all you do for your residents, and please keep us in the loop if anything comes out of left field at your worksite.


HACSU has you covered.

If you need anymore information, just give us a call on 1300 880 032 or reply to this email.

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

Aged Care Sector