HACSU has been continually raising concerns around the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for the disability sector. Fortunately, we're finally starting to see an increase in the rate of vaccinations with improved access for disability workers and clients. Currently, 46.1% of Tasmanian disability workers have received the first dose and 26.6% of workers are fully vaccinated. While we still have along way to go, the numbers have significantly improved over the last few weeks.
Tasmania's vaccination rates are slightly above the national average. New sites at Bellerive in Hobart and Mowbray in Launceston that are more accessible for people with a disability seem to be working, but we would be keen to hear your feedback. We’ve been meeting with other key stakeholders and the new Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff regularly, so if you have any issues with accessing the vaccine, please give us a call on 1300 880 032.
Fair Work has agreed Able Australia need to make full backpay payments to workers who have been performing sleepover shifts for more than 8 hours. This happened after Able only paid back a percentage of the payment owed to workers and left us with no option but to take the issue to Fair Work.
That means any extra time worked over the maximum allowable 8 hours in a sleepover shift will be paid at the relevant rate of pay, so the affected staff will receive another backpay, hopefully the correct amount this time!
Meanwhile, another southern-based employer has contacted us and told us that there had been sleepover breaches over the past few years. It seems they are being fully transparent with us about how they intend to backpay staff, including their leave entitlements and superannuation. We will keep an eye on this as it proceeds and make sure workers are backpaid correctly and will not be asked to perform sleepovers for more than 8 hours.
It pays to be a union member. If you don’t think you’re being paid correctly, please contact us. If you know someone working in the disability sector who’s being underpaid by their employer, you can encourage them to join HACSU.
On a recent visit to a disability supported independent living home, we discovered that an employer thought it was acceptable for a worker to do a sleepover and sleep in the garage that had no floor coverings, no ventilation and no heating.
To top it off, the employer schedules the worker to wake up at 2am to check on the client and only classes it as a disturbance.
A sleepover in a garage is never acceptable, and if your employer tries to schedule that you perform a task during a sleepover, then they are obliged to pay you for time worked. It is never to be “just another disturbance”.
Both these issues have been sorted by the employer once HACSU pointed out the error of their ways. Are they mistakes or pushing the boundaries? You can make your own mind up.
If things are going on when you do sleepovers that you don’t think are right, please contact us for advice.