Last Friday HACSU had our first catch up with new acting state manager of National Disability Services (NDS) Alice Flockhart to discuss current issues in the disability sector. NDS is the peak employer representative for disability service providers.
We talked about a range of issues which with be further discussed at a meeting with disability providers and advocates for people with a disability being held later this week. We raised several matters, including economic recovery opportunities in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, a portable long service scheme for Tasmanian disability and community service workers and the multi-employer agreement that has not been renegotiated.
HACSU is keen to work with industry to put forward priorities for the sector that that could assist with the economic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis, such as new housing stock and increased training opportunities for people working in the sector.
We also see the introduction of a portable long service leave scheme as a real opportunity to attract workers to sector and reward staff for their experience. We also discussed was the potential to recommence negotiations for a new multi-employer agreement. This agreement was negotiated nearly 10 years ago and need to be updated to reflect changes in the industrial landscape and catch up with other disability and community services agreement that include thing such as family and domestic violence leave.
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has completed its annual review of NDIS prices and released an updated Price Guide and Support Catalogue to apply from 1 July 2020. Some of the positive changes which HACSU asked for in our submission to the price review have been implemented, such as:
• Enabling providers to recoup 100% of the cost of cancelled services (previously this was 90%)
• Assuming that 100%of workers will be eligible for long service leave in recognition of portable long service leave schemes (previously this was 18%)
• Enabling providers to charge participants for the non-labour costs of travel, i.e. where a worker has to use their own vehicle to transport a participant
Please note that prices have not yet been indexed as the NDIA is awaiting the Fair Work Commission’s decision in the Minimum Wage Case.
However, there are some key structural changes to the Price Guide which will be detrimental to the disability sector. The key change relates to Supported Independent Living prices (i.e. prices that pay for the cost of running group home services). This price guide has changed these supports from uncapped to capped – meaning that some service providers they will see a reduction in income. These changes demonstrate why we need to continue to campaign for a better NDIS.
Late last year a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission accepted HACSU’s claim that all workers employed casually in social and community services (including disability) – are to be paid their 25% casual loading in addition to penalty rates for working on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. This change comes into effect on 1 July 2020.
For the average aged disability services worker this equates to an hourly pay increase of $6.69 per hour. The increase will be applied to the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award(SCHADS) and will also form part of the BOOT when making new enterprise agreements.
This is a fantastic win for tens of thousands of the lowest paid workers in the country who do invaluable work supporting some of the most vulnerable people.
HACSU, through our national office, has been busy preparing for a number of upcoming hearings in the Fair Work Commission.
On 25–26 June, a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission will hear the HACSU’s claim for paid pandemic leave for health, aged care and social and community service workers. The claim seeks to ensure that any worker who is required to self-isolate or becomes sick because of COVID-19 can take paid pandemic leave, which is separate from any other leave entitlements. The claim will cover casual as well as permanent employees. HACSU has been working with other relevant unions and the ACTU on this significant claim. You can view all the relevant documents on the Fair Work Commission’s website here.
The following week, on 1–2 July, the Fair Work Commission will hear the HACSU’s claim for a COVID-19 allowance for disability support workers working with clients who have contracted or are in quarantine because of COVID-19.
If you need to meet with management to discuss your work conditions - hours, workload, workplace flexibility, rosters or any other issue that affects your working life - you have the right to union representation.
Before you attend a meeting alone with management call HACSUassist on 1300 880 032. Our experienced organisers will listen attentively to you and may pick up something you didn’t think of. They will also advise whether you should have representation attend with you.
Most employment agreements and workplace policies include processes the employer must follow before doing things like changing rosters or a statement of duties and tasks. Also, check agreements and policies to see if there is a special process for disciplinary meetings or anything else relevant to the issue you want to discuss.
It’s a good idea to ask management for a copy in writing of all relevant information before the meeting. This includes the right to accessing your personal file if needed. We suggest you call HACSUassist to contact the employer to make an appointment. You may need to sit down with a HACSU organiser before the meeting to properly prepare by looking at what the issue is and what outcome you’re looking for.
HACSUassist offers support and guidance for HACSU members and all calls are confidential. Just call 1300 880 032.