New agreement at Frank Whiddon

Members at Frank Whiddon aged-care facilities endorse new agreement.

Nurses working at The Whiddon Group aged-care facilities have voted a resounding ‘yes’ to a new agreement with their employer. The Agreement provides a new classification structure and improvements in conditions for nurses. It covers 16 facilities and just under 1,300 staff.

‘This is a great result, with 87% of staff who voted, voting yes,’ said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda.

The four-year agreement – currently waiting to pass the ‘no disadvantage test’ before it is registered – provides for wage increases in October 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. On average, the wage increases are 3.5%, but as a new classification structure is introduced, some nurses may receive more.

Other benefits include improved long service leave for nurses after 10 years employment, five weeks annual leave instead of four, 12 weeks paid maternity leave, four weeks paid paternity and adoption leave, and up to five days grandparents leave. Members will also be able to raise issues about understaffing and excessive workloads.

Flexible working arrangements are available to employees after a year of continuous service if they are a parent, grandparent or primary carer of their parent.

And it is not only full-time staff who stand to gain benefits from the agreement. Part-time employees on a year basis have the ability to request to have their hours increased where they work regularly more than their contracted hours, and casual workers who have been rostered on a regular and systematic basis over a period of 52 weeks have the right to request permanent employment. Casuals will also receive a 20% loading and will be entitled to overtime where more than 76 hours in a fortnight are worked.

‘The new classification structure will make employment at The Whiddon Group attractive to newly qualified registered nurses,’ said Judith. ‘We are very pleased with the new agreement.’

Her views are echoed by Diane Sharwood, NUM in low care at The Whiddon Group in Wingham. ‘It’s definitely an improvement. Staff morale has been boosted. I like the idea of having five weeks holiday a year. I work Monday to Friday and under the old agreement I’d only get four weeks. We’re looking after patients with dementia and I’ve always said you need three weeks off every six months to recharge your batteries.’

Diane is also particularly pleased about the paid grandparents leave, as she recently became a grandmother for the first time. ‘I’ll be taking advantage of that for the next grandchild, probably,’ she said.

Key benefits of new agreement

  • Wage increases in October 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. On average the wage increases are 3.5%, but as a new classification structure is introduced, some nurses may receive more;
  • Improved long service leave accrual for nurses after 10 years employment;
  • Five weeks annual leave for all employees – up from four weeks. The additional annual leave, which could provide between one and five days leave depending on the number of Sundays and public holidays worked by the individual, has been removed;
  • 12 weeks paid maternity leave and four weeks paid paternity and adoption leave;
  • Up to five days grandparents leave;
  • Ability for members to raise issues about understaffing and excessive workloads;
  • Agreement may be renegotiated in July 2013.