New ACS Agreement

New ACS template finalised, with 3% pay rise backpaid to 1 July.

The template agreement negotiated by the NSWNA, Health Services Union with Aged and Community Services NSW (ACS) has been finalised, with nurses working in the not-for-profit aged care sector set to receive a minimum 3% wage increase back dated to the first pay period on or after 1 July 2011.

The Agreement – which is due to be voted on by nurses this month – means that RNs and ENs will receive a pay rise of 3% from the first pay period after 1 July 2011, 2.8% after the first pay period on or after 1 July 2012, and 3% on the first pay period on or after 1 July 2013.

For the first time the Agreement stipulates that AiN wages be at least 3.5% above the Nurses’ Award minimum rate. ‘This is a positive step for AiNs as their wages have always tended to be a lot closer to the minimum rates,’ said NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes.

The Association sought a new AiN Medication classification to recognise AiNs who administer medications. While this has not been included as part of the ACS template agreement, the NSWNA is in discussions with a number of employers about offering a varied template agreement that includes the AiN Medication classification.

The NSWNA is conducting a round of visits to members at workplaces across NSW to inform and answer questions about the new Agreement. At these meetings, improvements will be highlighted including the clarification of the overtime provisions to apply to part-timers and casuals after 10 hours; removal of Under 18 AiN rates of pay; cost of criminal checks to be paid by the employer; and an increase in casual loading to 21.5% from July 2011, 22.67% from July 2012, and 23.83% from July 2013. In addition, more nurses will be eligible for five weeks annual leave under the new shift worker definition.

Other new improvements to the Agreement include ‘replacement of employees on leave’ to be included in the workloads clause; recognition of employees’ right to join a union and to access union representation; and an option to ‘purchase’ an additional one week’s leave.

The NSWNA encourages members to utilise Agreement provisions such as the improved Nursing Workloads clause. Other options contained within the Agreement provide casuals with the ability to request permanent employment and part-timers to request a review of their contracted hours.

‘The rates in the ACS template Agreement continue to be higher than the rates in a number of other aged care agreements in NSW,’ said