Here's a snapshot of what's been going on in private health workplaces and how we can help.
Calvary have workload management consultative committee meetings set up for clinical and non-clinical staff members with meetings held every 3 months in paid time, so if you have any workload issues please contact us so we can raise them on your behalf – remember, if it’s not raised there’s a fair chance it’ll never be addressed.
If you work for Calvary and need more info or want to participate in one of these committees, then please get in touch through HACSUassist at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1300 880 032.
On July 27 the Fair Work Commission awarded Paid Pandemic Leave to aged care workers required to self-isolate by their employer, a medical authority or on the advice of a medical practitioner because they display COVID-19 symptoms or have come into contact with a person suspected of having COVID-19.
At this stage, it only applies to workers employed on an aged care award, but we're writing to each Tasmanian employer where we have EBAs asking them to commit to the new clause, and we’d like to see it apply to all sectors where HACSU members work.
The paid pandemic leave entitlement will initially operate for a period of 3 months.
HACSU and other aged care unions ran the national case for workers and put a massive effort into securing this leave, and we’re very happy the FWC accepted our arguments and recognised the vulnerable nature of aged care residents as well as the financial vulnerability of workers.
Without this leave, the decision to work or not can be extremely difficult as most staff work fortnight to fortnight so being forced to take unpaid leave would be financially devastating for many.
Aged care providers and event labour hire agencies will be able to recover funding from the federal government for wages associated with any required self-isolation by workers.
Determinations have now been issued in the Aged Care, HPSS and Nurses Awards and come into effect immediately.
In summary, the paid pandemic leave provision:
• Provides for up to 2 weeks paid leave to self-isolate for each occasion when an employee is prevented from working and cannot work from home
• Applies to all employees covered by the Aged Care Award
• Applies to employees covered by the Nurses Award and Health Professionals Support Services Award who are engaged in the residential ‘aged care industry’
• In most circumstances you must take all your personal leave credits first
• It is not available if you make a WC claim relating to getting COVID at work
• The employee must be tested for COVID ASAP
• It only applies to casuals engaged on a ‘regular and systematic basis’
• The entitlement is calculated on the base rate of pay
• For a part-time employee, the entitlement is calculated as the greater of: (a)their agreed ordinary hours of work; or (b) the average of their weekly ordinary hours of work for the previous 6 weeks
• For a casual employee, the entitlement is calculated on the average weekly pay received by the employee in the previous 6 weeks, or where the employee has been employed for less than 6 weeks, for the duration of their employment
Under the Workplace Health and Safety Act of 2012 (section 75), workers have the right to request Health & Safety Committees (HSC) to be established so bosses and workers can get together to discuss safety issues. The committees established under the Act are ‘required to meet at least once every 3 months and any other time on request of half or more of the committee.’
Bosses can’t reject a request to establish a committee if the request comes from an HSR or 5 or more workers at the workplace, and big fines apply if committees aren’t established within 2 months of the request being made.
HSC members are to be given reasonable time to work on safety matters, and it’s always paid time, and your boss should approve this and it’s not normally a trigger for overtime. Fines apply if bosses don’t allow committee members time to work on safety matters.
Committee members must be provided with or have access to all relevant information relating to hazards, including associated risks, and health and safety concerns of workers at a workplace, which may include being able to see all incident reports that relate to safety events including workplace injuries.
Health& Safety Reps have powers under the act, but HSCs don’t have to just include the HSRs, anyone can be appointed to an HSC.
Where an injury is involved the boss must not disclose the identity of the specific worker to the HSC members, to comply with privacy obligations, and fines are included under the Act if they do disclose the identity of the injured worker.
Calvary,for example, has workload consultative committee meetings set up for clinical and non-clinical staff members that are held every 3 months in paid time, and workers with any workload issues can contact us so we can raise them on their behalf.
Remember, if your issue isn’t raised there’s a fair chance it’ll never be addressed, so if you’d like more info about having a health & safety committee in your workplace please contact us at HACSUassist via email@example.com or 1300 880 032.
Over the last few months bargaining for enterprise agreements has proved to be very difficult, and there are several organisations who’ve commenced but are yet to conclude bargaining, with some employers immediately shutting down negotiations because the future couldn’t be forecast, and their bottom line was being ‘ripped up’.
The Fair Work Commission recently provided a minimum national wage adjustment of 1.75% for the year, which isn’t a good outcome for Tasmanians where the CPI for Hobart was 2.5% for the last financial year and is expected to be similar this financial year - despite negative growth this quarter we still have the highest CPI in the country.
We’re seeking commitments to get to the bargaining table at Calvary (for nurses), HealtheCare, Healthscope, Regional Imaging and a few others, even remotely if necessary, and we ask for your patience as it’s not easily done under the current circumstances.
Thanks for the amazing work you’re doing in this unprecedented, rapidly changing environment. Feel free to contact HACSUassist from 8am-6pm Monday to Thursday and 8am–5pm Fridays about anything in this newsletter or any other issue you have, regardless of how small you feel the issue might be. Be strong, take care and stay safe - we’re proud to represent you.