Replacement of absences

I am a registered nurse working in a public hospital. When someone calls in sick, how is that absence managed if staffing levels need to be maintained?

Under Clause 53 of the Public Health System Nurses’ and Midwives’ (State) Award, the “default position is to fill the absence with a nurse of the same classification as the absent nurse” (ie. like for like). It is only after all avenues to backfill at the same classification are exhausted that the use of a nurse with a lower classification can be considered. In that scenario, “the NUM (or delegate) must consider how the functions in the ward/unit can be safely and appropriately performed by a nurse of another classification”.

Where a decision is made to backfill with a nurse of a lower classification, the Award stipulates that a record of this, together with the reasons, must be made.