Private health newsletter

Posted on
May 14, 2020
Health Services Industry

Your fortnightly union update

Here's a snapshot of what's been going on in private health workplaces and how HACSU can help.


PPE levels during COVID-19

As the pandemic progresses HACSU members are working harder than ever to ensure patients are being cared for, and they do this with limited personal protective equipment (PPE), strained resources and at great risk to their own safety. We couldn’t be any prouder of each and every one of our front line members who are saving lives and keeping Tasmania running.

HACSU received an influx of calls from diagnostics members about PPE and concerns for their workplace safety during this pandemic, and they said there was no official screening process to ensure patients aren’t presenting with COVID-19 symptoms – processes such as ensuring hands are sanitised and basic questioning about health and recent travel. Staff also weren’t being supplied with face masks which is especially concerning given some of our members have to be in close proximity to patients when taking blood and other products.

HACSU is committed to ensuring all front line workers have a safe workplace and that there are adequate staffing levels and PPE to protect them, and this issue has been formally raised with management, and any member concerned about safety issues should contact us.


How does an employer qualify for JobKeeper?

The basic rules are simple: a small business needs a 30%reduction in turnover compared to March 2019 and March 2020 and a 15% reduction if a charity, while a big business with a turnover of $1 billion or more the reduction needs to be 50% as a bigger business is expected to have better access to finances and capital-raising to get them through. Click here for an ACTU fact sheet.

The government made changes to the Fair Work Act and, essentially, these changes only apply to those covered by the JobKeeper scheme. ACTU info about this is available here.

We’ve heard all sorts of stories about JobKeeper, and no question is too strange, so members can give us a call if unsure about anything.


Don’t get caught out by sneaky EBA voting rules

Here’s one from the bag of dirty tricks - the federal government changed the way voting on EBAs can occur, which could affect all workers except those in the public sector - an employer can propose a new EBA with only 24 hours’ notice to finalising the voting on it, though employers can give more time if they choose to.

It means an employer could propose an agreement on a Friday and have the voting finish on the Monday, which would prevent you from being able to discuss it with us or give reasonable to time to assess the changes and how they might impact them.

Please be on the lookout for this type of action as we may not be aware of it until it's too late to get information to members, and we strongly recommend you vote NO and encourage your colleagues to vote NO to any proposed agreement distributed with less than the full seven-day access period.

If any employer provides less time than what was the norm, it’s likely to be for underhanded reasons.


Safety and Duty of Care - what do they mean?

Definition: The condition of being protected from - or unlikely to cause - danger, risk, or injury, and the obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment.

This can come in many forms and typical areas of concern are fire safety, workplace health & safety, food safety, personal safety, child and adult protection, safer recruitment, equality and protection from bullying,violence, harassment, stress or discrimination from any source.

Employer responsibilities: Under the law it’s an employer's duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business and they must do whatever’s reasonably practicable to achieve this.

Employee responsibilities: Employees have the same duty of care to their fellow work colleagues and, if applicable, to clients.

Sometimes the employer has different ideas on how all this should work and can be blasé about everyone’s responsibilities, so if a member or their colleague has any concerns about an employer not honouring their duty of care, and the employer has been made aware but has done nothing to address these issues, please get in touch with us.

Everyone wants to feel safe in their workplace and when this doesn’t happen the consequence can be severe, even resulting in death.

Click here for more information on the Work Health &Safety Act 2012.


Ensuring workers aren’t forgotten in COVID-19

The crisis is particularly concerning to health and community workers who are the sharp end of the response, and if you have questions about any of the following, we can help:  

•  Being asked to use personal or annual leave

•  Being asked to reduce hours

•  How an employer qualifies for the JobKeeper allowance

•  JobKeeper rules the employer must follow

•  How the JobKeeper allowance affects workers

•  Appropriate personal protective equipment and training for staff

•  The employer’s provision of a safe workplace with social distancing rules 

Please discuss any of these issues with our team at HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or

HACSU will continue to fight to protect workers, especially health and community workers, who should be thanked for the vital work you’re doing and not disadvantaged by the pandemic.


HACSU supporting you

With this rapidly changing environment we’ve increased our working hours to ensure we’re available, and HACSUassist now operates from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, so you can better contact us regardless of how small you feel an issue might be.

Thank you for all your amazing work doing during these unprecedented times.

Please take care, look after you and your workmates’ safety,and please follow the rules.

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

Health Services Industry