Community Health

Victorian Community Health Sector

ENTERPRISE BARGAINING AGREEMENT 2018

Health Workers Union reached an in-principle deal on June 8, 2018 with Victorian Community Health Sector bargaining representatives for your next workplace agreement. The deal includes a 16% pay rise over four years and up to a $2100 sign-on bonus awarded to employees (see details below).

This proposed new Agreement, Health & Allied Services, Management and Administrative Officers (H&A/M&A Employees) employed under the Victorian Stand-Alone Community Health Services (Health and Allied Services, Managers and Administrative Officers Multiple Enterprise Agreement 2011-2015), will determine your pay and conditions for the next four years.
 
But first, workers will need to vote for the proposed new agreement. You will only get a pay rise if the majority (over 50%) of ALL community sector employees affected by this Agreement vote in favour of it. Further, a majority (over 50%) of all community sector employees affected by the Agreement must vote. Only when this happens, can the new Agreement be ‘ratified’ by the Fair Work Commission. If the vote fails, or not enough people vote, you will not get your pay rise or sign-on bonus!
 
THE HWU STRONNGLY RECOMMENDS ALL HWU COMMUNITY SECTOR MEMBERS VOTE YES to ratify the proposed agreement.  To start receiving the benefits of this agreement, including pay increases and a sign-on bonus of up to $2,100, Community Health Sector Members must ratify the agreement by VOTING YES!
 
The HWU strongly urges you to VOTE YES to approve the enterprise agreement. The ballot for the proposed Agreement will be held in the coming weeks. The HWU will notify you via SMS when the voting period opens. Please ensure you vote.
 
SUPPORTING THE PROPOSED AGREEMENT
 
HWU negotiating team, led by Assistant Secretary, David Eden, negotiated long and hard for the best deal that we believed we could achieve. We compared our offer to what other unions had achieved, and determined that the current offer on the table was amongst the better offers accepted by Victorian Unions.
 
After careful assessment, we determined it was unlikely we could achieve a better result, even if industrial action was taken. If you do not vote to approve this agreement, there is no guarantee that you will have a legally enforceable wage increases going forward.
 
The negotiated outcome is a strong one for our members. It meets many of the claims made by the HWU on your behalf.
 
Unfortunately we were not able to achieve the exact rate of wage rises for all classifications. This outcome is not uncommon when negotiating enterprise agreements. That is, some classifications (that already get paid a lot more than others) will attract a smaller wage rise than others – and vice versa.
 
Importantly, the minimum wage increase CHC employees will receive over the life of the proposed Agreement will be 16%. The HWU were able to achieve this high wage rise due to the fact that many of the Clerical and Dental workers were HWU members.
 
Nonetheless, the wage increases achieved in this agreement are well above the average national private sector wage growth of 1.9%.
 
INCREMENTAL PAY INCREASES (16% OVER FOUR YEARS)
 
A revised clause to preserve any existing, more beneficial entitlement of any employee covered by the Agreement, except where expressly varied
 
Minimum wage increases (totalling 16% over the next 4 years) and allowances will be increased as follows:

   I. 5% increase from the first full pay period commencing on or after 8 June 2018;
   II. 3% increase from the first full pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2018;
   III. 3% increase from the first full pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2019;
   IV. 3% increase from the first full pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2020;
   V. 2% increase from the first full pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2021.
 
In addition, Clerical Workers will receive an additional 3.5% over the life of the Agreement. Dental Nurses will translate to the Dental Assistants classification structure in line with Dental Health Services Victoria. This will add further career progression opportunities in line with the Victorian Public Health Sector.
 
All non-wage-related allowances (e.g. laundry, linen, nauseous) will be boosted by the wage increases on the same dates. 
 
ONCE OFF LUMP SUM PAYMENT (SIGN-ON BONUS)
 
A lump sum payment of:
 
a)  $2,100 (pro-rata for part-time Employees) has been agreed for H&A/M&A Employees that have been employed for greater than twelve (12) months on the date the Agreement commences to operate.
b)  $1,050 (pro-rata for part-time Employees) has been agreed for H&A/M&A Employees that have been employed for less than twelve (12) months on the date the Agreement commences to operate.
 
AGREEMENT NOMINAL EXPIRY DATE
 
The nominal expiry date of the Agreement is 1st February 2022 with the expectation that the first wage increase in the next agreement will be no later than 1 July 2022.
 
SAVINGS PROVISIONS
 
The agreement includes a ‘savings clause’ that ensures no employee will have their rate of pay, conditions or entitlements reduced in any way by the introduction of the new agreement and/or the implementation of new classification structures.
No employee is to be financially worse off with the introduction of the new agreement.
Where a reference is made to a personal relationship in the agreement, personal relationships will include heterosexual, same-sex and transgender relationships.
 
DISPUTE SETTLEMENT
 
The dispute resolution procedure will apply to workplace grievances. HWU members have the right to representation in relation to a dispute in accordance with this clause.
For the first time, employees will also be able to raise disputes if their requests for a flexible working arrangement are refused.
 
TRANSITION TO RETIREMENT
 
Employees aged 55 years or over (that indicate their intention to retire within the next five years from their employer) are entitled to a Retirement Transition Arrangement (RTA).
An employee and their Manager may agree that an employee that wishes to transition to retirement may use their Accrued Long Service Leave and Annual Leave for the purpose of reducing their working week, but may retain their previous employment status.
An employee that has entered into a RTA shall preserve their Long Service Leave entitlements at the time of reduction in salary or hours. This means employees will not lose the value of their accrued Long Service Leave if they want to reduce their hours or change classification as part of a RTA.
 
PARENTAL LEAVE
 
An Employee, other than a Casual Employee, that has an entitlement to unpaid parental leave shall be entitled to the following.
 
(a)  In the case of the primary care giver, 10 weeks paid parental leave;
(b)  In the case of the non-primary care giver, 1 week paid parental leave.
 
Employees are entitled to Paid Parental Leave (PPL) from the employer as well as Parental Leave Pay from the Australian Government.  The Employer and Employee may reach agreement as to how the PPL under this Agreement is paid. For example, PPL may be paid in smaller amounts over a longer period, consecutively or concurrently with any Commonwealth Government scheme and may include a voluntary contribution to superannuation.
 
The Employer shall make a superannuation contribution on the paid parental leave.
 
FAMILY VIOLENCE LEAVE
 
Employers recognise that Employees may face violence or abuse in their personal life that may affect their attendance or performance at work. Your employer is committed to providing support to staff that experience family violence.
 
Your employer will develop guidelines to supplement this clause, which details the appropriate action to be taken in the event that an employee discloses family violence.
 
An affected employee will have access to 20 days per year of paid special leave (pro-rata for part time employees) where the employee requires time release for activities related to and as a consequence of family violence.
 
The leave may be taken as consecutive or single days or as a fraction of a day. The leave does not accumulate from year to year.
 
SUBSTITUTION OF RELIGIOUS PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
 
Subject to the ongoing operational needs of the employer, an employee may, with the prior agreement of the employer, substitute a public holiday as defined in this clause with a nominated religious holiday that is not a defined public holiday.
 
Where a religious holiday is nominated to be a substitute and the employee works on the defined public holiday they will be paid at ordinary time and will be allowed time off on the nominated religious day without loss of pay. Applications are to be made at least one month in advance of the date on which the nominated religious holiday occurs, and the public holiday being substituted.
 
PROMOTING ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER WORKFORCE PARTICIPATION
 
The parties commit to the promotion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment though increasing the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in all health professions/services.
 
PROMOTING DISABLED WORKFORCE PARTICIPATION
 
The parties commit to the promotion of employment for people with disabilities though increasing the representation of people with disabilities working in all health professions/services.
 
 CLASSIFICATION STRUCTURE REVIEW (ADMINSTRATIVE AND CLERICAL WORKERS)
 
The parties will meet (with equal representation of both VHIA, HWU and their members), within six (6) months of the Agreement being approved by the Fair Work Commission, to commence the development of a Classification Structure that appropriately recognises Administrative and Clerical Work.
This review will ensure the classifications are:
 
a. Community Health specific
b. Easy to read and in plain English
c. Eliminates unnecessary duplication; and,
d. Recognizes work value
                 
CASUAL CONVERSION CLAUSE
 
Where a casual employee has worked shifts on a regular and systematic basis over a period of 52 weeks or more, the employer and the Employee recognise that the employee may be more properly classified as part-time or full-time. 

 
PART-TIME REVIEW OF HOURS
 
Where over a period of 52 weeks or more a part-time employee regularly and systematically works more than their contracted hours, the employer or the employee may request in writing a contract reflecting that the employee’s hours have increased on a permanent basis. Such a request will not be unreasonably refused by either party.
 
EMPLOYEES HOLDING OFFICIAL HWU POSITIONS
 
The employer will, on application by the HWU, grant unpaid leave (including reasonable travelling time) to an employee for the purpose of fulfilling their duties as an official of the HWU Branch Committee of Management or HWU delegate to the Union National Council. For a member of the HWU Branch Committee of Management this currently involves 11 full day meetings per year.
 
CHANGES TO THE DENTAL NURSE/ASSISTANT CLASSIFICATION STRUCTURE
 
Dental Nurses will translate to the Dental Assistants classification structure in line with Dental Health Services Victoria.
 
Table 1: Dental Nurse/Assistant classification structures 
 
Current Classification New Classification Grade New level / pay point
Dental Nurse Level 1 (trainee) Dental Assistant Trainee *New Pay Point
Dental Nurse Level 2 Dental Assistant Grade 1 1.1
Dental Nurse Level 3 Dental Assistant Grade 2 2.1
Dental Nurse Level 4 Dental Assistant Grade 2 2.2
Dental Nurse Level 5 Dental Assistant Grade 2 2.3
Dental Nurse Level 6 Dental Assistant Grade 2 2.4
 
*Equivalent to the amount for Dental Nurse Level 1 Trainee immediately prior to translation.
 
SUBSTITUTION OF PUBLIC HOLIDAYS BY AGREEMENT
 
The Employer and the Employee may agree to substitute another day for any prescribed in this clause. For this purpose, the consent of the majority of affected Employees shall constitute agreement.
 
JUNIORS, TRAINEES AND APPRENTICES
 
All trainees and apprentices will be engaged under an appropriate state or federal traineeship scheme and paid no less than the rates contained in Schedule E – National Training Wage of the Miscellaneous Award 2010.
 
Increased rights for apprentices to cover training costs, textbooks and time release to attend TAFE.
 
REVIEWING OF AGREEMENT OVER LIFE OF THE AGREEMENT
 
All parties recognize that the current enterprise agreement needs a thorough review. This task is large and if it were completed this round of bargaining it would have taken many more months of negotiations. As a result, the parties have agreed to review the agreement over the next four years, on the following basis:
 
(a)  The parties will meet, within six (6) months of the Agreement being approved by the Fair Work Commission, to review the terms and conditions of the Agreement;
(b)  The parties will develop an Agreement that is Community Health Centre specific;
(c)  The parties will provide a progress report of the work that has occurred to Community Health Centre’s within three (3) months of the Agreement expiring.
 
DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE
 
A more comprehensive Disciplinary Procedure having regard to procedural fairness. This includes rights to be represented by the Union during investigatory and disciplinary processes.
 
MAKE SURE YOU VOTE YES!
 
The HWU urge you to vote YES to accept the proposed Agreement when it goes to the vote in the coming weeks.
 
More Community Sector members of the HWU translates to better bargaining outcomes. If you’re not already a member of the HWU, then we ask you to join today by calling (03) 9341 3303 or by visiting https://hwu.org.au or by following this link.
 
If you have any questions or require further info please call the HWU on (03) 9341 3300.

Community Health Workers

The Health Workers Union represents many of the hard working people that work within Victoria’s Community Health Centres (CHCs). The Health Workers Union has been working very hard to make sure that the workers within CHCs are paid decent wages and have reasonable working conditions. 

The Health Workers Union is currently engaged in Enterprise Bargaining in relation to the Victorian Stand-Alone Community Health Centre Enterprise Agreement. We will be visiting Community Health Centres in the coming months and encourage all workers to attend our meetings. We also appeal to CHC HWU members to encourage their peers to join our union so that you can all have a say about what you want changed in relation to your professions, position descriptions & work conditions.

Please bear in mind that, collectively, workers in a union have greater negotiating power than they do individually!

CHCs operate across the state and provide a broad range of services and health promotion activities to local communities, particularly those who have or are at risk of the poorest health and have the greatest economic and social needs.

CHSs receive Community Health Program funding from the Department of Health. There are approximately 100 CHSs in Victoria operating from approximately 350 sites. 

Within a typical CHS, you can find General Practitioners and mental health clinicians (either directly employed by the CHS or possess their own provider number and use Medicare to Bulk Bill patients) and privately funded services, and other health and support services, to make up the majority of the primary health sector in Victoria.

The Victorian Government primarily funds the following services through CHS:

  • Dental services
  • Allied health clinicians (including audiology, dietetics, exercise physiology, physiotherapy, podiatry, occupational therapy and speech therapy.
  • Counsellors
  • Medical and Nursing services (Enrolled and registered) and
  • Health promotion experts.

Some CHS offer other services and supports which can include:

  • Disability services
  • Aged care services
  • Alcohol and drug programs
  • Rehabilitation programs
  • Maternal and child health services
  • Outreach services
  • Problem gambling programs
  • Carer respite
  • Mental health programs
  • Support for self-help

Who can access Community health services?

CHSs offer affordable health care, particularly for people on low incomes. Services are available to all local residents, regardless of income, although fees apply (usually $20-$35 per session). These fees are charged for services according to the client’s ability to pay, and can be negotiated or waived if payment is difficult. Health Care Card holders are charged a heavily discounted fee.