HWU Aged Care Members Update July 2021

HWU AGED CARE MEMBERS UPDATE JULY 2021

AGED CARE MEMBERS VACCINATION SURVEY RESULTS

Thank you to the thousands of HWU aged care members that participated in our recent vaccination survey. This survey is now closed.
 
The survey indicated that over 40% of our aged care members were yet to receive any COVID vaccination shot, whilst only 20% had received both shots.
 
Over 64% of our aged care members believe the vaccine should be mandatory, and nearly 36% believe it should not be mandatory. 
 
The primary concern of members that do not wish to be vaccinated relate primarily to personal health issues. Specifically, members have serious concerns about AstraZenica and getting access to the vaccine they want. Only 10% of members preferred receiving AstraZenica as their vaccine, and the remainder of our members preferred to receive the Pfizer vaccine. 
 
Alarmingly, 20% of our aged care members said they “would consider leaving” the aged care industry when mandatory vaccination comes in. A further 8% said they would “definitely leave” the industry.
 
This would have devastating consequences for the aged care sector if approximately 30% of workers chose to leave an already short-staffed industry. The issue of mandatory vaccination for aged care workers is dividing the workforce.
 

MANDATORY VACCINATIONS FROM 17 SEPTEMBER 2021

After a recent decision by National Cabinet, it will be mandatory for all residential aged care workers to have received a minimum first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 17 September 2021. 
 
Whilst the Health Workers Union encourages all aged care workers to get vaccinated against COVID19, we do not support mandatory vaccination. We have expressed this view to the Federal Government. It’s clear that a significant proportion of aged care workers do not want to get vaccinated, primarily due to concerns about their health and any potential side effects of getting vaccinated. The consequences of forcing a workforce to do something that they feel would compromise their own health is that it would further stretch the workforce in an industry already short-staffed. Many aged care workers will leave the industry. This will no doubt be the unintended consequence of mandatory vaccination for the industry. 
 
As it stands, the National Cabinet has mandated that all aged care workers be vaccinated by 17 September 2021. For more detailed information, go to: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/information-for-aged-care-providers-workers-and-residents-about-covid-19-vaccines/information-for-residential-aged-care-workers-about-covid-19-vaccines#mandatory-covid19-vaccination-for-residential-aged-care-workers. 
 
Currently, the legality of sacking aged care workers for refusing to get vaccinated is unclear. There has been one case go to court where a childcare worker was sacked for refusing vaccination. The decision of the employer was upheld. The childcare worker lost her job.
 
Please note that the Health Workers Union is here to represent ALL our members - including those that support mandatory vaccinations, and those that have concerns about being vaccinated.
 

PFIZER NOW AVAILABLE TO ALL VICTORIAN AGED CARE WORKERS

All residential aged care workers, irrespective of age, are now eligible to be offered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as the available supply increases.
 
Workers can also choose to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. 
 
Residential aged care workers can access a COVID-19 vaccine through on-site provider and GP clinics. Residential aged care providers can conduct their own vaccination clinics, or consult with their Primary Health Network to organise a GP-run on-site clinic for their workforce. Ask your employer if this is an option for you. Residential aged care workers can also get vaccinated onsite through GP-run clinics at your facility. 
 
To make a vaccination appointment, speak to your employer or GP, or call the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.
 
You can confirm their eligibility by providing the following documents: 
proof of identity (e.g. driver’s license, passport, birth certificate)
proof of employment (eg. current work ID card) 
letter from employer or payslip confirming your current employment, and
Medicare card if you have one.
 

WORKING ACROSS MULTIPLE AGED CARE WORKSITES

The Federal Government has re-instigated its funding for aged care single-site workforce arrangements for a two-week period from 16 July to 30 July. With lockdown extended, it appears likely this period may extend further. 
 
This funding means if you are working across multiple aged care workplaces, your primary employer can apply for Federal Government funding to ensure you are paid for lost hours at your second facility. This funding is (currently) only available for workers in the following areas:
Greater Melbourne (all Metropolitan Melbourne local government areas),
Moorabool Shire,
City of Greater Geelong,
Borough of Queenscliff
Surf Coast Shire; and
Mildura
 
We are lobbying the Federal Government, via our Support Hub Advisory Committee, to ensure all Victorian aged care workers have access to this funding – not just workers in affected areas.  
 
In the meantime, providers in these areas are asked to adjust their rosters to ensure staff are only working at one residential aged care facility within this region during this period. Workers are encouraged to speak with their primary employer and look to work all shifts during this period with the residential aged care provider where they were working the most hours prior to the outbreak.
 
To the greatest extent possible, the employer should seek to match any hours no longer being worked with a secondary employer to ensure the worker is not financially disadvantaged. 
 
In the first instance, please have a direct conversation with your primary employer if you are affected by this current single-site arrangement.  If you are eligible for funding and your employer refuses to make and application on your behalf, contact the HWU immediately on (03) 9341 3300. 
 

AGED CARE ENTERPRISE AGREEMENTS

The Health Workers Union is responsible for negotiating over 400 workplace Agreements.
 
These Agreements determine your pay and conditions. Getting members better pay and conditions is our core business. The vast majority of these 400+ workplace Agreements are in the private aged care sector. 
 
Many Agreements are due to expire this year and in 2022. This means new workplace Agreements (and pay increases) will need to be re-negotiated. Contact the union if you have any questions about your Agreement and when it expires. 
 
The HWU is looking for workplace union delegates and leaders across aged care worksites to assist us. The key to securing better pay and conditions at your workplace is having strong and active union members and HWU Workplace Delegates. If you do not have a HWU Workplace Delegate and are interested in becoming one, simply email  info@hwu.org.au with the heading: HWU Aged Care Delegate Expression of Interest.
 
Together, we are always stronger. 
 

NATIONAL WAGE VALUE CASE FOR COMMUNITY AGED CARE WORKERS

The HWU is appealing for our members working in community aged care to speak up and have their say in a National Wage Value Case for Community Aged Care.
 
Many employees in the aged care sector, including home and community aged care employees, are paid minimum Award rates. Home and community aged care employees are predominantly engaged in roles for less than full-time hours. The Award rates do not provide a relevant safety net of minimum wages. For the reasons set out above, the current Award rates significantly undervalue the work performed by home and community aged care workers. Even where rates of pay are set by enterprise Agreements these rates are little more than Award rates of pay. This needs to change!
 
If you work in home and community aged care and you are interested in having your voice heard, now is the time to speak up. The HWU will make a submission on your behalf. To register your interest, simply send the HWU an email to info@hwu.org.au titled “National Wage Value Case for Community Aged Care” and add your name, membership number and phone number.  
 

CONTACT THE HWU FOR ASSISTANCE

The HWU recognises that our aged care workforce is fatigued by COVID19. We are constantly reminding government of how hard you work and how dedicated you are to your residents.
Thank you for being on the frontline and keeping the health industry going during this difficult time.
 
If you have any workplace issues or questions, please call the HWU on (03) 9341 3300 during business hours, 8.30am to 5.00PM, Monday to Friday. 
 
Please note that on Monday, 26 July, from 12.30pm to 1.30pm the HWU will be updating our phone and IT systems. There will be an outage of our telecommunications during this period. If your matter is urgent, email info@hwu.org.au, stating your name, membership number and workplace issue.