Removal of Funds for Staff Specialists Moving into Levels 2-5

17-Aug-2018


As you may be aware, ASMOF is in dispute with Northern Sydney Local Health District regarding the existence and utilisation of residual funds of Staff Specialists who migrate between Levels 1 to 2-5. The matter arose from NSLHD for several members who migrated to Levels 2-5 and after 12 months, the District unilaterally removed the remaining funds.

Their argument is based on a disputed interpretation of the below clause from the Training Education and Study Leave Policy Directive (TESL PD):

5.1.1 Staff Specialists Changing Levels

Staff Specialists changing level of private practice from Level 1 to Levels 2-5 (usually on July 1) with an individual sub-ledger should understand that they will not have any TESL funding available from their No 2 account for the first 12 months but they can still access any residual Level 1 TESL funds left in their account at the time they changed to Level 2- 5.

However, on July 1 in the following year after such a change, surplus funds in the relevant sub ledger of the No 1 account remain available until expunged. If there are sufficient funds available, they are then able to claim any legitimate approved TESL expenses incurred during the first 12 months on Levels 2-5, subject to the relevant approval.

We understand the Ministry agrees with the assertion from the NSLHD that the clause should be read that any balance remaining in the general fund after 12 months from the point of migration should be expunged by the PHO.

Nevertheless, our position is very clear. The entitlement is provided for in the Staff Specialist Determination 2015. Migration between elected levels is captured by Clause 2 of the Determination and 7 (e)(ii), which reads:

 

(ii) Where a Staff Specialist has accrued a right to Training, Education and Study Leave with the same Public Health Organisation partly under Level 1 and partly under Level 2, 3, 4 or 5, he/she shall be entitled to be paid by the Public Health Organisation's general fund 1/12th of the annual funding entitlement pursuant to subclause (c) above for each completed month of service under Level 1 (subject to subclause (c) (i) of this Determination), less any funding entitlement already taken. In the cases of Levels 2 to 5, approval must be obtained from the trustees or the body authorised by the trustees, in order for that portion of the funding entitlement accrued under Level 2, 3, 4, or 5 to be accessed.

The clause provided above clearly identifies the quantum of the residual balance in the general fund should be paid to the Staff Specialist. As such, we argue they retain the balance in the general fund that existed immediately prior to their migration to Levels 2-5.

Second, the above should be considered in the context of the policy and read in conjunction with Clause 3.4 - Rights of Private Practice of the TESL PD, which reads:

A Staff Specialist transferring from Level 1 to Level 2-5 maintains the balance of the entitlements in terms of days accrued and any remaining funds balance, but no longer receives funding from the general fund.

ASMOF are concerned that if the Ministry maintain their assertion, the practice has the potential to unfairly reduce the total funding entitlement of Staff Specialists across NSW for the inappropriate benefit of the PHO. Similarly, we believe NSLHD and other affected Districts have reduced and continue to reduce the entitlement unfairly.

Initially, we are requesting the following:

1. The Ministry clearly commit to recognising the entitlement so that Staff Specialists who migrate from Level 1 to Levels 2-5 continue to maintain their residual funds until expunged by their choice;

2. NSW Health Local Health Districts and Networks are made aware in writing of the correct interpretation of the entitlement;

3. Any funds that have been inappropriately expunged by the District or Network are to be returned to the Staff Specialist.

If you believe you have had your residual funds inappropriately removed, please contact allocation@asmof.org.au, or alternatively, the ASMOF Office on 9212 6900.