Hours regained

After it took over Kennedy Health Care in 2016, Estia was hit by higher vacancy rates at the former Kennedy homes.

It sought to cut costs by presenting former Kennedy nurses with proposed new contracts.

By cutting hours by as little as 30 minutes each fortnight, Estia would transform 14 registered nurses at Merrylands, Figtree and Kilbride nursing homes from full-timers to part-timers. As a result, they would lose their rostered days off.

After extensive discussions between Estia and the NSWNMA the employer agreed to a framework to manage cuts, return hours and monitor workloads, and to purchase additional equipment. Full time registered nurses remained full time.

NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said “this was a constructive approach from an aged care provider”. However, former Kennedy AiNs are all part-timers and the union was unable to stop Estia reducing their hours.

However, Estia did agree that staff who lost hours would be the first to be offered additional hours when resident numbers increased.

Brett Holmes said nurses have a right to be consulted before any change to their regular roster.

“If the roster is going to change, the employer must genuinely consult with employees before that change is implemented. Affected employees must be given sufficient time to consider the proposed changes and raise any concerns,” he said.

Minimal consultation with staff

Sarah Jones, NSWNMA branch president and delegate at Estia’s Merrylands, said initially there was minimal consultation with staff, “We were just told that Estia was in financial difficulties with so many empty beds.

“My own hours were not cut but others have had to make up for lost income by switching to shifts that pay penalty rates. This has forced some to put their kids into childcare, which means more expense.

“Some of them are the only breadwinners in the family so it’s pretty hard for them.”

Sarah said the cut to hours will need to be monitored to guard against increased workloads.

“Some nurses have to do seven or eight showers within four hours, as well as residents’ morning teas and lunches, putting away personals and cleaning up.

“How can one person do all that in four hours? It means they have to cut corners and can’t spend time with the residents, as they should.”