Welcome to our January update on changes to employment legislation. I hope the New Year has been treating you all well, so far.
This month the Fair Work Commission has been addressing outstanding issues in relation to the Nurses Award, the Health Professionals and Support Services Award, and the Professional Employee’s Award.
Changes to the Nurses Award 2010
Effective from the 9 January 2019, the Nurses Award was changed to allow employees to be paid overtime where they are recalled to work and don’t physically need to attend the workplace and are instead, required to provide care or advice remotely via email or telephone. The minimum engagement pay period is now less however, than if they attended the workplace.
The meal break provision was also amended to set out when breaks must be taken, when an employee can forgo their meal break and how an employee should be paid if they are required to be available or are recalled to work during their meal break.
Under the award, an employer can no longer require an employee to be “on-call” when they are rostered to be “free from duty”, as interruptions to their designated time off work is viewed to restrict their ability to relax and fully enjoy family and personal time.
The minimum rest period between shifts has also been extended from 8 hours to ten hours, to promote better fatigue management.
The award was also changed to allow an employer and employee to agree to a change in the roster with less than 7 days’ notice, where an employee fills in for another employee who is absent for specified reasons as outlined in the award, such as family and domestic violence leave, compassionate leave or ceremonial leave. Where this occurs, an alternate day off needs to be mutually arranged.
Changes to Health Professionals and Support Services Award
From the 9 January, amendments were made to the Health Professionals award.
Among the more notable changes, the Award was also altered to allow a mutual agreement to a change a roster with less than 7 days’ notice, where the employee is covering a shift for another employee absent for specific reasons as outlined in the award.
And an employee, with the employer’s agreement can also elect to forgo their meal break where their shift is six hours or less.
SPAN OF HOURS – HEALTH PROFESSIONALS AND SUPPORT SERVICES AWARD 2010 – CHECK
The Commission also announced that the span of ordinary hours which currently covers Private Medical, Dental and Pathology practices, will also apply to physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathic practices. But this won’t be in effect until the first full pay period from the 9th of July.
PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES AWARD – NEW STREAM FOR MEDICAL RESEARCHERS
And finally, the Fair Work Commission has finalised their decision in relation to extending coverage under the Professional Employees award 2010, to Independent Medical Research employees.
From the first full pay period on or after the 1 February 2019, medical research employees with relevant academic qualifications may be covered under the new Medical Researcher Stream in the Professional Employees Award 2010.
The new stream contains five new classification levels, which should be reviewed when confirming the correct rate of pay to apply to an employee.
That’s it from me for now. We will catch you next month for our February update.