What is your Award and why does it matter now?

Your Award is being reviewed and the Health Services Union is fighting back against a bosses’ plan to further erode job security, while putting forward our own plan to get rid of the rip-offs facing workers in Disability Support and Home Care.

You might be surprised to learn that all Disability and Home Care workers have their terms and conditions of employment underpinned by an Award, called the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award (SCHCDS).

In short, it creates a safety net, and a base set of pay and conditions for workers in our industry.

Even if you have an Enterprise Agreement at work, the Award is still critical, because the law requires that all workers covered by an Agreement are ‘better off overall’ than under the Award.

This means that if we make the Award better, the rising tide lifts all boats for future Agreements.

Right now, our Award is being reviewed by the independent workplace umpire, the Fair Work Commission. After speaking widely to members, we provided evidence to the Commission earlier this year to outline our vision for the Award and workers’ rights in Disability and Home Care.

Secure work and low pay are big problems in the Disability support sector. Recent data showed that casual workers make up 42% of the workforce, while 8 in 10 permanent workers are part-time.

Underemployment is also a problem. Between September 2015 and September 2017 average weekly hours per worker have decreased from 26 to 20 hours per week, with workers in the industry already some of the lowest paid in Australia.

That is why we are fighting to create secure jobs and fairness in Disability and Home Care in our Union Claim:

 

Union Claim Current Conditions
A minimum shift length of three hours for all workers • No minimum shift length for permanent employees
• Casual Home Care workers – 1 hour
• Casual Disability Support Workers – 2 hours
Shifts cannot be broken more than once and the minimum shift length (3 hours) be applied to each period of work No restriction on broken shifts leading to frequent and often lengthy unpaid gaps between shifts
Clearly state that travel between clients is work and should be paid time with all expenses
covered
• No clear requirement to pay for time travelled between clients (particularly when broken shifts are exploited)
• Reimbursement of 78 cents per km applies
A telephone allowance that reflects the requirement to have and use a smart phone for work • The Award references a landline telephone
• No reference to smart phones, while employers often require their use to make calls, take photographs and client notes, and log onto company apps.
Adequate notice for home care workers when a shift changes or client cancels Shifts can be cancelled at 5pm the day before a rostered shift without compensation.
Provide appropriate facilitates are provided to workers engaged in a ‘Sleepover’ • No reference to type of facilities provided to workers.
• Sleeping quarters provided to workers have included offices or tea rooms with noisy fridges, faxes, often without lockable doors.

 

Then last month, the NSW Business Chamber, a bosses’ union, wrote a letter of the Commission asking to create a new type of employee, not casual and not part-time. These cut-rate casuals would receive a 10% loading (much less than the 25% casuals receive) and could have guaranteed work of as little as 1 hour a week.

It really is the worst of both worlds. Lower pay and less job security.

Our union is taking the fight to the Commission on Wednesday, 3 April to oppose this attack on workers in Disability and Home Care, and to fight for our own plan for the sector.

Together, we can Change the Rules and win. Share this article with your colleagues, make sure they know what is happening to your Award.

Contact
Mick Bellairs
National Campaigns and Projects Officer
mickb@hsu.net.au, 0419 777 380

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