YOUR RIGHTS – This festive season
When it comes to your rights and entitlements at work, NSWNMA General Secretary Shaye Candish has the answers.
It has been a busy few months at the Association as work continues to win better lives for our members. We continue to focus on introducing real, enforceable ratios and are working hard to deliver a new safe staffing system that is transparent, accountable and enforceable. We continue to work to ensure aged care workers in the private sector receive the full benefit of the funding provided for 15 per cent wage increases awarded by the Fair Work Commission’s decision, and ensuring the legislation requiring nurses 24/7 and a minimum number of nurse/care minutes per resident is being enforced. But let’s get back to your existing workplace entitlements and ensuring you have access to what you are entitled to …
When can I access FACS leave?
I work at a public hospital in NSW and I have applied for Family and Community Services (FACS) leave due to some complicated circumstances where I had to provide urgent support to a member of my household. My manager has said that FACS leave does not apply. When can I access FACS leave?
Clause 32 of the Public Health System Nurses’ and Midwives’ (State) Award 2023 contains the provisions for granting of FACS leave and clause 4 of the NSW Health Leave Matters Policy Directive contains additional guidance. FACS leave has broader application than personal carers leave as it can be accessed for a range of personal and community service obligations, unplanned emergencies and pressing necessity. Sometimes there is debate about what a pressing necessity or unplanned emergency is, which can lead to your employer being reluctant to grant FACS leave. If you have had an application refused, please contact the Association for advice and assistance.
Association membership fees during parental leave
I am about to commence a period of parental leave. What happens to my membership and fees during this leave?
Members who commence a period of parental leave can request a parental leave fee waiver for the period of leave. During that time the following benefits will continue to be provided to the member:
basic guidance and support in relation to work
access to the online education portal iLearn, where a member can complete education to meet annual CPD obligations
access to discounts and savings on household goods and services through Member Advantage
continued subscription to the NSWNMA magazine, The Lamp.
At the end of a parental leave waiver, membership recommences, as does full coverage of NSWNMA services and benefits provided through membership. To request a parental leave waiver, members can contact our Membership team.
Repayment of Rural Workforce Incentive Scheme
I am working for NSW Health in a rural area of NSW and received a payment package under the Rural Health Workforce Incentive Scheme. I have been in my position for 13 months and am considering resigning. Is it true that if I do resign, that I will have to pay back the money that has already been paid to me?
There has been a history of challenges in attracting and retaining health workers in particular rural areas of NSW. The Rural Workforce Incentive Scheme was developed to provide a range of financial and non-financial benefits to attract and retain employees at these locations. Health workers who receive payments under the conditions of this scheme and leave their role within 18 months of receiving the incentive may be required to make repayment of all or some of the money paid. The policy has not been clear or evenly applied and, through advocacy by the Association, is being redrafted to provide more transparency and fairness. Please contact the Association for further details of what repayment may apply to you in your situation.
What are the public holidays over Christmas 2023?
The public holidays coming up over the Christmas period are:
Monday 25 December (Christmas Day)
Tuesday 26 December (Boxing Day)
Monday 1 January 2024 (New Year’s Day)
Generally, you should get a penalty if you are required to work on a public holiday. If you need further advice, please contact the Association.
Leave approvals for Christmas
My manager has declined my annual leave request for the Christmas period. I always take Christmas off and this is something I have done for many years. Is this allowed?
Annual leave approvals should be considered by the manager, who will need to balance all staff requests during holiday periods when more staff wish to access leave. Approvals may need to take into consideration if a staff member has previously been granted leave over Christmas periods, to balance granting leave to employees who may not have previously received leave during those periods. Those who have had the Christmas period off in recent years might, unfortunately, have to work through Christmas to allow others an opportunity to have the festive break. You should discuss your application and the reasons it was not approved with your manager, to see what alternatives are available to you. You can also contact the Association for advice.
I work for a public hospital and my NUM has told me that our unit will close over Christmas and I have to take my annual leave. Is this true?
Shutdowns can occur over the Christmas/New Year period and annual leave is encouraged if you are not providing essential services. Managers are encouraged to release employees wherever possible and, in many workplaces, can direct staff to take leave with reasonable notice. If you work in a unit such as operating theatres, elective surgeries would stop but emergency surgeries would still occur. Staff can elect to take annual leave and others may be redeployed to other wards if available as long as the nurse is not working outside of their scope of practice. Shutdowns can occur in both the public and private systems. You can contact the Association for advice.