Unfortunately, last week we learnt that our push to get a COVID-19 allowance in the award for disability support workers, who support people who have or are suspected of having COVID-19, has been knocked back by the Fair Work Commission.
The decision was extremely disappointing as we felt we had demonstrated a clear need for the allowance in the case we had presented, including expert witnesses.
The decision did state that the FWC thought this was more of a bargaining matter, so HACSU will continue to lobby employers who have not agreed to apply the allowance.
We are currently bargaining with several employers and will keep fighting for this allowance.
Across the sector we are still campaigning for Paid Pandemic Leave and we, advocates for people with a disability, have included this request alongside in evidence we have presented to the Royal Commission.
We have been trying to get employers back to the bargaining table either face to face or via Zoom sessions to restart stalled bargaining negotiations since COVID-19 measures have started to relax in Tasmania.
It’s becoming very apparent that employers are reluctant to pass on a decent wage increase or even a fair safety net % increase above the very low Fair Work Increase of 1.75% per annum.
One agreement that we’re bargaining for now has been expired for 15 months and the employer is claiming that the financial impact ofCOVID-19 on their organisation in Victoria as the reason that they want to wait till late next year before they consider renegotiating a new Tasmanian workplace agreement.
HACSU suggested tuning up the agreement in the meantime before going through a full bargaining process for a longer agreement later on, but the employer came back via a Zoom bargaining session and said they didn’t want to do that because they felt having to put the agreement out for staff to vote on would be too much work at this point in time.
We’re seeing reluctance to bargain from a lot of employers and HACSU is continuously pushing to get a better deal for all our members.
HACSU is part of the consultation process during workplace restructures, fighting for the best outcome for workers.
One large employer has been implementing a major restructure involving the closure of a large day support facility. Support workers will be working from community venues, no doubt creating uncertainty around where workers will be based and what the new model will look like.
We’ve been involved in the process from the beginning and we have been attending fortnightly management feedback sessions with workers as the employer encourages them to have input and provide feedback. The sessions have been well-attended by both staff and new managers with respectful feedback from all sides. After after struggles with previous management, it’s great to see a positive turnaround through this process.
Whist this is still a work in progress and has a way to go yet, it’s great to be part of positive workplace change and cultural improvement.
Recently we helped a disability support worker who got in touch because they believed their employer wasn’t giving them the extra week of annual leave that was owed to them because they worked 10 or more weekend days in a year.
We looked into it, and the member was correct: they’d only been given 4 weeks annual leave instead of the 5 weeks they were due.
We took it up with the employer and the member was then credited the extra week of leave.
But we didn’t just leave it there – HACSU then asked for an audit of other staff members’ leave.
The audit found that there were another nine workers who also had been short-changed a week’s annual leave – and now they’ve been credited with the leave they were owed too.
Going forward, the employer has also put these things in place to stop this happening again:
1. Those staff who are permanent (F/T, P/T) at commencement will have the Payroll Record note 5 weeks of leave upfront if there is a clear expectation of working 10wks in a year.
2. Those staff who have roster changes and pick up “To Be Advised Shifts” will now have their leave balances retroactively adjusted at 31/12 and 30/6 of each year.
Because one member raised a question with HACSU, we were able to follow up for them, for their workmates, and finally systematic process to implement and maintain 4 to 5 weeks annual accruals for their staff.
If you’ve got a question, always ask! We’re here to help.
Recently North West Support Services (NWSS) offered several casual employees the opportunity to come across to a permanent position, which would mean they’d start accruing sick and annual leave.
We wrote to management to say that it’s great that they were offering permanency to many of their casual employees, but we also wanted to confirm that the average hours provided on the contracts were actually the employees’ contracted hours.
Management wrote back saying that they’d sent a letter to those interested and to confirm that this is the case.
Like staff at NWSS, if you’re offered a contract to move a permanent position and accrue sick leave and annual leave, and you wish to sign the contract confirming exactly that, our advice is that you note in the email or contract that the hours provided are your contracted hours (or in the case of NWSS, that “average hours means contracted hours”).
If you have any questions about converting from casual to permanent, give HACSUassist a call on 1300 880 032.
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Thanks for the amazing work you’re doing in this unprecedented and rapidly changing environment.
Feel free to contact HACSUassist between 8am and 6pm Monday to Thursday and 8am – 5pm on Fridays, about anything in this newsletter or any other issue you have, regardless of how small you feel your issue might be.
Be strong, take care and stay safe - we’re proud to represent you.