Penalty rates for nurses on the ‘slippery slope’ with Sonic Health proposal

The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is fighting an attempt by health provider Sonic Health Plus to cut the Sunday penalty rates of its nurses by a staggering 25%.

ANMF Federal Secretary, Lee Thomas, described the company’s proposal as the “start of the slippery slope” for nurses working in so-called “non-essential” areas of health service delivery.

“As soon as the FWC slashed penalty rates for workers in the retail, hospitality and fast food sectors, we warned that employers in health and aged care would have a go – it was only a matter of time,” Ms Thomas said today.

“Initially, it was our members in aged care who were most at risk, but Sonic Health Plus just proves that employers are now lining-up to start stripping away penalty rates from nurses and other employees.

“The slippery slope we’ve been warning about is fast becoming a reality.”

As part of a new, single Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) which reduces many current entitlements for nurses, the company is seeking to:

  • Cut award penalty rates for nurses by 25%;
  • Cut public holiday rates for casuals;
  • Cut parental leave from 14 weeks to 4 weeks;
  • Cut annual leave.

“The impacts of these cuts will be absolutely devastating to our members working in Sonic Health Plus Clinics on Sundays and public holidays. It just proves that the FWC has opened the door for other employers to do the same – no one is safe.”

Ms Thomas said the ANMF is continuing to negotiate with Sonic Health Plus to ensure that any new EBA “provides fair and reasonable wages and conditions including no reductions to existing conditions.”


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