Further Attack on Existing Award Conditions

15-Nov-2013

Topping up of workers comp payments under threat.

Most public health awards contain a provision* permitting sick leave to be used to cover the difference between the amount received as workers' compensation and full pay.  Sadly, this now appears to be under direct threat from the NSW Government.

A meeting occurred recently with representatives from the NSW Public Sector IR Unit, Treasury.  This was to discuss those provisions that are contained in a number of public sector awards regarding the capacity to use sick leave to top up payments received whilst on workers compensation.  These fall into two categories:

  1. Those awards that make specific reference in the award clause to the ‘old’ and now superseded workers compensation legislation (generally ‘traditional’ Crown employees awards); and

  2. Those that make no reference to workers compensation legislation but set out the topping up provisions as an express term in the award (which is how this provision is made available in health awards that ASMOF is a party to).

At the meeting it was verbally confirmed by the NSW Treasury representatives that the NSW Government into the future (presumably 1 July 2014) will not approve any wage increases in health awards until these provisions are withdrawn/not complied with.  Further, this proposed loss of entitlement is said to be outside the NSW Public Sector Wages Policy and therefore will not be considered a saving to be returned to employees.

Sadly, confirmation of this approach has now become clear.  Another public sector award dealing with the Roads and Maritime Services is currently subject to arbitration - pursued by the NSW Government solely in relation to having the IRC remove a (health like) provision for topping up workers compensation payments. Unions NSW are now seeking to intervene on behalf of those affiliates who have an interest in the determination of this threshold issue.  ASMOF is participating as one such union on behalf of members.

Yet another example of the continued attempts to incrementally erode existing rights and conditions of employment.  Further updates will be provided as the above mentioned case proceeds.

* For example, in Clause 19 Sick Leave in the Staff Specialists (State) Award: “... a Staff Specialist shall not be entitled to sick leave on full pay for any period in respect of which such Staff Specialist is entitled to workers' compensation; provided, however, that the Employer shall pay to a Staff Specialist who has a sick leave entitlement under this clause the difference between the amount received as workers' compensation and full pay.  The Staff Specialist's sick leave entitlement under this clause shall, for each week during which such difference is paid, be reduced by that proportion of 1 week which the difference paid bears to full pay.” [emphasis added]