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March 6, 2021

Catholic Healthcare defends decision to remove workers holidays

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Accusations that Catholic Healthcare, who run Coolamon Villa aged care in Mullumbimby, are removing a weeks holidays from aged care staff by changes to what defines a shift that is outside normal hours have been rebutted.

A spokesperson for Catholic Healthcare said there are ‘committed to providing its people with access to all of their entitlements under our enterprise agreement including the additional annual leave available to shift workers. We continue to appreciate and recognise the enormous value that our people bring to the lives of others.’

This was in response to accusations by the Health Services Union (HSU) that the changes to the meaning of working ‘outside normal hours’ would leave remove a weeks leave from around 500 aged care workers who work for Catholic Healthcare in NSW.

Contrary to the claim of the HSU, we have not sought to ‘cut costs’. Rather, we have simply sought to apply some reasonable, practical guidance around the way that shift workers are identified to ensure that this additional annual leave is being applied consistently and equitably across our organisation,’ said the Catholic Healthcare spokesperson.

‘As to numbers affected, the 500 quoted by the HSU is pure speculation. The facts are that the over whelming majority of employees who qualify for the fifth week do so based on their weekend work alone and will continue to do so. On this basis, the HSU claim that this refinement will ‘rule out the majority of shift workers’ is in our view misleading.

‘Catholic Healthcare remain committed to working with the HSU on this matter but in the absence of an agreement we welcome the opportunity to have this matter heard by Fair Work.’

HSU responds

However, HSU’s area manager for aged care and disabilities  Rob Sheehy says that ‘Catholic Healthcare’s claim that its changes to leave arrangements are not about cost-cutting doesn’t pass the pub test.

‘It is clear that access to the fifth week of leave is going to be reduced for a significant number of employees.

‘We have asked Catholic Healthcare for verifiable evidence to back up its assertion that most workers will not be affected, but they have failed to provide it.

‘What’s more, Catholic Healthcare has made little effort to reach an agreement with the HSU over this issue.

‘It is very disappointing that we will now have to take the organisation to the Fair Work Commission to get a resolution.

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