We know you might have many questions about how genU intend to handle on-call issues.
We've contacted the genU operations manager, who has told us that the new process is a tried and true approach that has been working well with the broader genU residential structure for many years.
Here are the issues we raised with genU and their responses:
1. Workers are concerned that they may already have their hands full with clients’ needs and are therefore not able to call other staff to come in and fill shifts.
“All sites have differing client needs and this would be managed on a case by case basis. There is still support locally during business hours and an on-call team outside of business hours that teams can call for assistance. We will also be setting up group WhatsApp accounts so that reaching staff is a quick and easy process.“
2. There are currently no lists in the houses for staff to ring.
“I have spoken to Team leaders, and they have informed me that the lists of staff (casuals and permanent) are at the houses.“
3. Workers are not happy to have their private phone numbers lying around the house for anyone to get hold of.
“Phone numbers are kept secure in staff office, not on display. Staff numbers are required at site for multiple reasons other than shift cover such as welfare checks if staff do not show for their shift etc.“
4. Workers will have no idea if the staff member they ring has already completed their allotted hours and will go into overtime.
“There is an expectation that staff are familiar with their own applicable overtime rules and what shifts they have been rostered on to. In cases where staff may think that they are going to go into overtime or breach EBA, staff can contact the afterhours line for support.”
5. Workers are concerned that friends could just ring friends and not distribute the extra shifts in a fair manner.
“Team Leaders manage timesheets and shift approval at the houses including monitoring shift coverage happening across the week and ensuring that there are fair and equitable distributions of shifts. Team Leaders are shift working Team Leaders, so will have much more oversite of the inner workings at the properties.”
6. Workers have been told that if they can’t fill the shift, then they must stay on. Whilst most staff don’t have a problem staying on to help out, there will be occasions when they have other commitments and are unable to stay.
“genU and its staff have a duty of care to every client being supported. In a situation where it is unsafe to leave a client unsupported, staff will need to remain onsite until another support staff member can arrive. This has always been the case and only happens rarely. If there were any issues to arise with staff not showing up, and staff had to stay and couldn’t, this would then be escalated to on-call.”
7. Workers have also told us that support staff will need to find cover for their annual leave, and they’re concerned that if they are not able to find someone to cover their shifts, they cannot take the leave.
“This is certainly not the case; however it is encouraged for staff to talk to each other at the sites, and if someone puts their hand up to cover someone’s leave, we like this information to come through with their applications.
It most certainly is not a requirement that they cover their own leave period. The Team Leaders will be doing this.“
Your primary focus as a support worker should always be on providing quality care to the clients. If it is possible for you to search for shift coverage without disrupting care or escalating challenging behaviours, we encourage you to give it a try. But otherwise, ring on call and let them sort out the staff replacement.
If you are asked to stay on after your shift but have urgent personal issues to deal with, you should ring the on-call staff to arrange coverage.
Remember, your fundamental duty is to support the clients. If any other tasks get in your way to fulfil this duty, refrain from engaging in them.
If you've got any questions, please make sure you get in touch with us via HACSUassist.