Enterprise Bargaining - where to now?
A great number of changes have occurred to conditions of both junior and senior medical staff employed in Victorian hospitals. Planning by AMA Victoria and ASMOF over the past two years and negotiations with the employers and Department of Health and Human Services over the past year have been challenging but worth the effort.
A meeting of delegates in September and members in November gave clear direction that we needed to focus on ensuring remuneration moved Victoria closer to other states. It was also clear that using all possible means to settle the campaign in 2017 (if possible) was supported.
In the lead up to December, there had been little movement on salary increases with the Government sticking to its policy position. However we took the opportunity to discuss ‘options’ that were outside of policy but may, if proposed by the Government, settle the dispute.
December was an extremely busy time hammering out a package. Between 19 December and 19 January, we raced to prepare two agreements which are now before you.
The package has three parts – salary increases and changes to the conditions under which you work, along with an agenda for change in the coming months and years.
What is the timeline?
- You will be provided with access to a copy of the agreement relevant to you (either Specialist or DiT Agreement) by 5 March. You will have until 14 March to review.
- The ballot is expected to open on 15 March until 23 March. Voting will be by electronic ballot. You will be sent details by your hospital. Please keep an eye on your email account. Alternatively contact your hospital medical workforce or HR department.
- If successful, your hospital will be included in the new state-wide agreement to be lodged with the Fair Work Commission on 26 March.
- The Commission must approve Agreements. Their benchmark is three to 12 weeks from date of lodgement.
- Once approved it becomes law and hospitals must implement.
- A 9% increase from the first pay period to commence on or after 1 January 2018 will occur. Then 3% each year thereafter for 3 years.
- Other allowances will increase by 3% each year.
- Increase in DiT CME by $1000, then indexing with 3% for three years.
- Sign on bonus to those either full or part-time employed in a hospital on 1 January 2018 of $2000 (DiT) or $3,500 (specialists). Pro rata for part-time. This is a one-off payment and recognises the time between the last agreement concluding (1 April 2017) and the operation of this agreement.
Changes to conditions
A large number of changes apply to both juniors and seniors. These include:
- Consultation when the hospital wishes to make changes to your workplace.
- Redundancy processes that are detailed for the first time.
- A simplified dispute settling procedure.
- A disciplinary process that protects your rights.
- A right to flexible working arrangements in certain circumstances.
- Transition to retirement provisions that means older doctors can negotiate for step down later in their career.
- Workload management conditions can be activated so that excessive workloads can be managed.
- Replacement of doctors when on leave if the workload becomes unreasonable, i.e. can’t be handled in normal day.
- Public holidays are clarified with full-time doctors getting paid for public holidays even if they fall on their day off.
- Fitness for work provision that ensures if the hospital has a concern about your fitness for work, it must follow a process and provide support.
- Breast feeding facilities to be provided.
- New family violence leave of up to 20 days.
- One year contracts will be reviewed during the life of the agreement with the aim to move, where possible, to two year contracts.
- Return to your hospital after maternity leave. Where a person who has an extended absence, i.e. more than three months, the hospital is to provide a new contract so that you can return to your current hospital. If you take maternity leave from the hospital for more than three months, the hospital will provide you with a returning contract.
- Hours of work have been amended significantly to: maximise rostered hours for a registrars to 16, 48 hours break between night and day shifts, the maximum number of consecutive night shifts to 7, clarifying that overtime is to be paid on the hours worked in a week rather than averaged, clarification that a doctor must have at least 10 hours break between shifts without interruptions, i.e. phone calls.
- Training time requirements are now front and centre with clarity of payments required to be made if you are unable to access your training time.
- ‘On call’ is made clear that normal ‘on call’ means a doctor who is expected to take a call rather than actually having taken a call.
- Examination leave is to provide three days of paid leave just prior to an exam.
- Location allowance now applies to all who are required to move residence as part of their rotation.
- Paid parental leave is now available to either parent who takes on the role of primary carer.
- Facilities when on rotation to include Wi-Fi and ensure a safe environment.
- Fractional specialists must be provided with the days and times of when they are to work.
- Any new fixed term contracts are abolished unless there is a specific reason like replacement for maternity leave.
- Rights of Private Practice where a hospital acts as agent for the doctor require particular undertakings to be made and data provided to ensure no breach occurs to Medicare.
- Clinical support time is 20% (or College guideline) with clinical heads at 50%.
- Rosters must be designed to support safe hours of work.
- A new regime of shift penalty payments applies of afternoon shifts 25%, night shifts 75% Saturday and Sunday 75%. Night shifts Saturday are 75% and Sunday are 100%.
- Continuing Medical Education allowances are changed by: including sabbatical leave expenses, registration with Colleges and Associations, childcare reimbursement can be claimed of $250 per day for a primary care giver, claims can be lodged up to three months after the year in which they are incurred, but will be refused if after this time, if a hospital rejects part or all of a claim it must do so in 30 days and pay the non-disputed part(s), the reimbursement of airfares when there is an FBT component is clarified, in that the entire airfare is reimbursable (assuming it meets the criteria) and FBT must come from the reimbursable allowance, in certain circumstances where a doctor was prevented from using CME because of parental leave or personal illness, it can be carried over to the next year.
- Clinical academics are recognised in particular clauses in the agreement such as public holidays and CME.
Agenda for change
A number of changes will occur within the life of this Agreement. The parties have agreed to set up committees to focus on the following:
- to reduce duplication of training and promote recognition of training across health services
- to identify opportunities for common applications for positions and the implementation of electronic orientation and credentialing
- to monitor the proper implementation of training time for registrars
- to better accommodate long service leave arrangements for doctors employed by two or more concurrent health services
- to develop guidelines to assist employers in facilitating genuine job-share arrangements for DiTs
- to establish a Fatigue Management Review
- to identify how and when two year contracts can be accommodated for DiTs
- continued support for private practice arrangements
- to review of the rates of pay (paper versus actual) and other conditions with a view to identifying conditions that more accurately reflect current practice and a method to move the current paper rates to actual/market rates for full-time specialists
To say that these changes are significant is an understatement. Therefore the task of ensuring things change is joint. We must all become familiar with the changes and work with health services to implement them. This will require your support and work. It will also require you to talk to your colleagues about joining the AMA so that we are resourced should an argument occur during this time.
- become familiar with the Agreement when you are asked to vote
- ask your colleagues if they are members, and if not encourage them to join. Your fees have paid for this change. The more we are resourced, the more we can focus on proper implementation and ongoing work.
If you would like to discuss the EBA or any other employment matter, contact the Workplace Relations team on firstname.lastname@example.org or (03) 9280 8722.
Director, Workplace Relations