Paid parental leave for Living Care staff

NSWNA negotiates inaugural Enterprise Agreement at Living Care.

The NSWNA has negotiated the first ever Enterprise Agreement at Living Care’s eight aged care facilities in NSW, covering around 600 staff.

The Agreement delivered a minimum 3% pay increase from 1 November 2009, with some nurses receiving more; and a 3% pay increase from 1 November 2010.

Other wins include a one-off bonus equivalent to $450 gross for full-time employees (pro rata for part-time and casual staff), 14 weeks’ paid maternity leave and one week paid paternity leave, a pay scale for EENs, improved rights for part-time and casual workers and recognition of union representatives’ role in the workplace.

‘We found the employer good to deal with. They were quite straightforward and accessible and didn’t pick fights where they didn’t need to,’ said NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda.

‘Staff are enjoying lots of improvements under the new Agreement,’ said Judith. ‘Staff are better off in regards to the pay increases and we are particularly pleased with paid parental leave entitlements, that part-time employees can initiate reviews of their hours, and that long-term casuals can apply for permanent jobs.’

Judith also praised activist members who took part in the negotiations. ‘This meant the people who worked there had a real say and involvement in determining their employment conditions,’ she said.

One of those members was Allan Salway, an AiN at Living Care in Coffs Haven, near Coffs Harbour.

‘The Union was extremely good at organising surveys and getting feedback,’ he told The Lamp. ‘The new Agreement is a great step forward, especially considering Living Care has never had one. We used to be under the state award and we had no opportunity to raise matters with them about things that affected our employment. They would just say, “You’re covered under the award.” Now we have that opportunity.’

Allan said it was ‘definitely’ worth bargaining for the new Agreement. ‘Most of the employees didn’t know what an Enterprise Agreement meant for them, how you get one and hang on to it; now they do. The Union helped educate them. I believe all members and employees of Living Care will be better off.’

Members at other aged care employers would do well to push their employer to bargain for a good Agreement, Allan added. ‘We have learned so much by being involved. We now have first-hand knowledge of all the issues and are passionate about them.’

The two-year Agreement was voted on in November, with a whopping 89.5% of staff who voted, voting ‘yes’.

Key benefits of the new agreement

  • Minimum 3% pay increase from 1 November 2009.
  • 3% pay increase from 1 November 2010.
  • One-off bonus equivalent to $450 gross for full-time employees (pro-rata for part-time and casual staff).
  • 14 weeks’ paid maternity leave and one week paid paternity leave.
  • Faster salary progression of RNs through compression of the RN incremental scale.
  • Right for part-time staff to initiate a review of their hours and for long-term casuals to apply for permanency.
  • Process to identify and resolve workload issues.
  • Pay scale for EENs.
  • Improved long-service leave arrangements.
  • Casual loading increased to 20%.
  • Recognition of union representatives and the ability for them to undertake their union responsibilities in work time.