Catholic Healthcare, who run Coolamon Villa aged care facilities in Mullumbimby, have decided to remove a week of workers annual leave without consultation with workers. Catholic Healthcare has changed the way it defines the phrase working ‘outside normal hours’. According to the Health Services Union (HSU) the decision was ‘on the grounds that calculating worker’s correct leave entitlement is too hard’.
‘In reality, however, this is just a blatant attempt to cut costs by playing word games with the Enterprise Agreement,’ said HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes.
Catholic Healthcare operates over 40 residential aged care facilities across NSW and Queensland and around 500 workers in NSW will be affected.
Mr Hayes said that currently any worker who regularly works outside of normal hours (9am to 5pm) is entitled to a fifth week of annual leave.
‘Catholic Healthcare has unilaterally decided that from now on, the entire shift needs to be outside the hours of 6am–7pm for it be officially counted,’ Mr Hayes said.
‘This cynically rules out a majority of shift workers, as afternoon shifts typically go from 2:30/3pm to 11pm, and night shifts typically go from 11pm to 7am.
‘Working in aged care can be physically and emotionally draining, so the fifth week of leave is extremely important to the health and wellbeing of our members in this sector. Sadly, I fear that this decision will encourage more workers to leave the industry, and will have a negative effect on the level of care provided to aged care residents.’
Mr Hayes said that to the HSU’s knowledge, Catholic Healthcare was the only aged care provider to define shift work in this way.
The HSU has lodged a dispute in the Fair Work Commission over the issue, and is seeking to have access to the fifth week of leave restored.
‘The HSU is calling on Catholic Healthcare to reverse its decision, and to safeguard existing leave conditions in its next Enterprise Bargaining Agreement,’ Mr Hayes said.
Catholic Healthcare were contacted for comment by Echonetdaily. They did not respond before deadline.