Win for part-time nurses

You may have more long service leave than you thought!

Part-time nurses in the public health system may be entitled to a lot more long service leave than is currently recorded on their payroll record.

NSW Health has finally agreed that part-timers’ entitlements to long service leave (LSL) should be calculated according to the number of hours actually worked each year, rather than the number of hours set out in the part timer’s contract of employment.

The NSW Nurses’ Association negotiated for months to get the department to agree to this, said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary, Judith Kiejda.

‘The agreement means some part-timers are now entitled to many more hours of leave (or thousands more dollars if LSL is paid out) than previously advised by their payroll office,’ Judith said.

‘Any nurse who worked part-time and was paid for more hours worked than their contracted hours is potentially affected.

‘Those most affected are nurses who have worked consistently more hours than their contract over a period of time and didn’t have their contracted hours increased on the payroll system to reflect this.

‘Area Health Services are now obliged to recalculate leave balances on request from any employee who is or has worked part-time.

‘If you have moved Area Health Services, it is your current employer who must contact and resolve your correct entitlement with the previous employer.’

The Public Health System Nurses and Midwives (State) Award has been changed to reflect the new obligations of the employer (see award clause 33 (xi) for details).

Judith described the agreement as an important win for women, who form the majority of part-timers, and workers who have mixed full time/part-time/casual work patterns.

‘This is exactly the sort of important detail that the Howard Government doesn’t want to see written down in workers’ agreements,’ she said.

The government wants to replace the current detailed awards with just five minimum conditions – a minimum hourly rate of pay, 10 days sick leave, four weeks annual leave, unpaid parental leave and a maximum number of weekly working hours.

‘Without being able to rely on detailed award standards, many working people will be forced to negotiate with their employer for even the most basic rights and conditions they currently take for granted,’ Judith said.

The difference can be worth thousands

Here is an example of the difference between the two methods of calculation.

A part-time nurse’s contracted hours are 16 hours per week.
Her actual hours worked have averaged 22 per week over 10 years.
She decides to take two months’ long service leave and is a RN Year 8.

Nurse should get paid: $5,780
Instead she gets $4,070
She is shortchanged: $1,710

You can see what a difference the extra shifts make!
* Example only; amounts are rounded.

How to get your LSL recalculated

Write to your payroll office requesting that your leave be recalculated and a breakdown of your corrected entitlements sent to you.

You can use the sample letter on the Members’ Only section of the NSWNA website, www.nswnurses.asn.au.

If you are now working full time or casually, you are still entitled to the recalculation if your part-time service forms part of your long service leave entitlement.

Any nurse who ceased employment before 5 December 2005 (the date the award was changed) may also apply to their former employer to have their LSL checked and recalculated.

NSW Health issued instructions to Area Health Services in policy directive number IB2005_063. The directive is available on the NSW Health website – www.health.nsw.gov.au/policies/ib/2005/pdf/IB2005_063.pdf

Point this out to your payroll office if you have any difficulties getting your leave recalculated.

If there is any dispute over how many hours you actually worked and you have records (eg. blue book) these can be used to help determine your correct entitlement.

If any records are ‘lost’, your employer must consult you first to discuss what the actual hours of work have been.