ASMOF intervention ensures Staff Specialist can take TESL while on maternity leave


ASMOF recently assisted a member who contacted us after her application for TESL had been rejected on the basis she was on the unpaid component of maternity leave.

The member had attempted to resolve the issue over several months, without success, before contacting the union. When the member got in touch with the union, we escalated the matter to senior management at the hospital who also rejected the application. We then prepared a dispute notification and escalated the issue to the LHD level who finally conceded that TESL was available in the circumstances. The result is a credit to the member who was willing to take a stand on this issue.

Is this a one-off issue?

Feedback from our Women’s Working Group (WWG) members suggests that this is not an isolated issue. WWG members have told us that some staff have had difficulty accessing TESL and had been incorrectly told it was not available. By contrast, we are aware of some hospitals /departments in which staff specialists have been actively encouraged and supported to take TESL while on maternity leave.

Why is this entitlement so important?

According to WWG members, attending conferences and undertaking study while on maternity leave provides a range of positive benefits for both the staff specialist and the PHO, including:

It enables staff specialists on maternity leave to keep up with the latest learnings and international issues in their respective disciplines;

it facilitates networking with local and international peers which contributes to informal knowledge sharing and innovation of ideas;

it is critical to maintain CPD points which can be very hard to make up after coming back to work full time or part time post baby;

it enables staff specialists to refresh their knowledge and clinical skills before starting back at work;

attending workshops and conferences, and networking with colleagues during this period of work absence help build confidence and skills;

Access to TESL while on maternity leave should be consistently available across hospitals and PHOs and AHOs. Further, hospital management and the Ministry of Health should be demonstrating a commitment to the training of staff by encouraging and empowering staff to access TESL while on maternity leave.

If NSW Health and PHOs/ AHOs want to retain highly skilled doctors and make them feel valued for their work, then it must improve the current working environment for women with carer's responsibilities including their access to training and skill development.

ASMOF encourages members and non-members to contact ASMOF for assistance if they experience any issues taking TESL while on maternity leave. We can provide you with specific advice in relation to your entitlements.

We thank our WWG members for providing feedback on this issue.