20/10/2020 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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Health workers pay set to improve

Pay scales for SIPTU members in the public health service have been updated to reflect the final 2% adjustment under the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA), which came into effect from 1st October.

The adjustment applies to staff across the public health service, ‘section 38’ organisations including voluntary hospitals, and non-commercial State agencies covered by the PSSA.

Cuts to fixed allowances are also being reversed this month.

The deal, which was negotiated by SIPTU and other unions in 2017, expires at the end of 2020 and exploratory talks on a successor agreement began last month, and are currently continuing. 

It has been confirmed to SIPTU that the 2% will be applied to members salaries by 13th November or earlier depending on payroll frequency or cycles. Arrears will be paid in October/November across all payroll areas, however, no later than 30th November 2020.

Over the course of this three year agreement, the PSSA brought pay adjustments of more than 7% for the vast majority of SIPTU Health members. The agreement ends on 31st December 2020.

See DOH Consolidated Pay Scales 01 October 2020 for further details.

16/10/2020 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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No going back: Rebuilding better public and community services for all

The effect, impact and consequences of the global pandemic are profound, beyond description even, in terms of loss of human life, loss of human contact, the way we existed, lived and worked our daily lives.  

The effect on economic activity and employment will undoubtedly be very severe but we must manage our way through the course of the pandemic with the overriding objective of saving human life and doing so in a manner that protects fully the less well-off and most vulnerable in our society, and maintains social cohesiveness.

For our members in the Public Service at the front-line of delivering essential services in this most difficult time, you once again showed the true value of our public services and of public servants delivering essential services  at time of crisis, regardless of the risk, stress and fatigue you continue to be exposed to and you deserve to be recognised for that contribution by all in our society.

We are witness to some unprecedented measures taken by some governments across the world and in Ireland to help their citizens, their health and public service systems, their economy via employment, social protection schemes, supports to businesses and so on.

The Budget announced on Tuesday outlined some extraordinary measures deemed necessary as we chart this course, it is regarded as the largest package in the history of the state, in the region of €20 billion, with €14.5 billion directly to COVID-19 supports.

Truly staggering figures – the cost of funding which will be kicked down the road and spread over years of expected growth.

It may therefore appear to be difficult to over-criticise a Budget of such proportions, with so much going to deliver essential public services, protect jobs and give workers who lose jobs some income.  

However, let us not give the government parties a free pass nor allow them make a virtue out of necessity at this point. They must accept that many of the issues that led to such drastic measures being necessary is because they weren’t right in the first place. Chronic under-investment in public services, in social protection including statutory sick pay, are the significant contributors as to why such drastic measures became necessary.

They crystalised why austerity measures implemented in the financial crisis, failed us all, our society and our citizens and it is why, colleagues, we must ensure that we mobilise and get behind, and campaign on the “No Going Back Policy  Platform”. We must learn from the crisis of the importance of good well resourced public services.

Despite the staggering figures in the budget it is clear the Government has still not taken the opportunity to drive public investment in the years to come. The Fiscal Council – a very fiscally conservative body – called for a €10 billion stimulus over the next three years driven by public investment, the Government’s public investment budget for next year only increased by €600 million above what was planned pre-pandemic.

SIPTU, along with our colleagues in the ICTU, were very busy for the last 6/7 months, engaging with government and employer bodies in, a social dialogue  on these challenges and successfully ensured many of the measures referred to above were implemented.

Employers and government rightfully recognised the voice of working people as a social dialogue partner and we have work to do to push this agenda along, particularly in the area of the right to collectively bargain, and to sectoral social dialogue and the budget writers missed an opportunity here particularly given the levels of supports going to business and enterprises. 

SIPTU has launched its own fiscal policy strategy, which has anti-austerity and investment in public services as key principles to address looking forward the impact of the pandemic, Brexit, climate change and automation. 

Colleagues, I would like to talk a little bit about the impact that the challenge of COVID-19 has had on SIPTU, particularly with regard to how we went about doing our business on a daily basis.

Meeting members, individually and in small or large groups, has proved very challenging, depending on the restrictions imposed, maybe not allowed. Equally challenging has been the way, we engaged with employers and third-party mechanisms.  How the union organises workers and recruits workers is also challenging.

We will be doing some work to explore how best we are going to continue to meet these challenges over the next while, depending on the course of the Pandemic and the level of restrictions imposed by government.

Going forward, we need to look at how our committees are functioning, AGMs in 2021 and balloting procedures and so on, are just some of the issues that require reflection.

I do want to acknowledge the support, co-operation and understanding received from you all to date as we moved quite quickly into this new way of doing our business.

Maybe never before has the role of the shop steward been so important, as you in the workplace are the vital link for the Union to maintain contact with members and, importantly, in recruiting and organising new workers. 

On the private sector side of the union, it is very challenging for many of our members – loss of incomes, job losses, layoffs, short-time in certain sectors has been the order of the day – Construction, Aviation, Hospitality and Industrial Production.

The re-opening of the economy has helped to alleviate this but permanent job losses will become a feature of the next few months and there is a definite slow-down in advances in pay and conditions of employment.

On the Public Service Agreement side, as you are all aware, the current agreement expires on 31st December 2020.

The Public Services Committee did engage with the government side over the last few months in relation to stabilising the existing agreement and ensuring the final awards due were paid on the 1st October.

As I speak to you now, no formal talks process on a new agreement has begun and no invitation has been received by the Public Services Committee to any such talks.

The officers of the Public Services Committee met with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform with his officials and it is fair to say that both sides believe a new agreement is desirable.  

However, both sides have clearly stated, it won’t be an agreement at any price. What we have been doing is trying to scope out with the Government about what the principles of an agreement would look like.

At the moment, that is proving difficult and complex as there are significant differences and we are awaiting further interaction with them, post the budgetary processes this week.

For our union, we know the issues.  Our Biennial Conference in 2019 and the interrupted consultation process that we began early this year in advance of talks that would normally have taken place over May/June, gave us a very clear view.

COVID-19 and all of its implications, budgetary and so on, have clearly challenged the landscape but in this union’s view, that does not mean that we will accept an agreement that does not deliver for our members and the public service.

Any new agreement must rid itself of the vestiges of the past, it cannot be rooted in the language of continued austerity, it must offer hope and a vision of public service that is about investment, development, progression and fair reward for the contribution that is made by public servants.

A new agreement must rid itself of the regressive measures that reduced the earnings potential of public servants, and it must hold and advance the existing service delivery options to protect, grow and develop public service jobs and employment opportunities.

It must present opportunities for public service workers to explore the reform of the workplace that has happened since COVID-19, in a way that works for them, in a healthy, family friendly, ergonomic and productive manner.

We are trying to bring the Community Sector and Section 39 agencies into a better place during this time.  There is significant intransigent opposition to this on the government side.  We are supporting our members in an industrial and political campaign.  

There is a lot of work to do for these members who, as we know, provide essential care to the most vulnerable in our society.

We do know there is a good economic effect to pay increases, to the economy and to the sectors of the economy – Hospitality and so on, that will need spending to re-boot and generate employment.  

This is something that should not be lost on the government.

Speech by SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, John King 

03/09/2020 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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SIPTU members in St. Vincent’s Centre to transfer employment to COPE Foundation

SIPTU members in the St. Vincent’s Centre in Cork City are to transfer their employment to the COPE Foundation, which will result in improved terms and conditions of work and the maintenance of its vital services for residents. 

SIPTU Organiser, Sharon Cregan, said: “This move will bring to an end a long period of uncertainty for the staff employed at the centre which cares for women with intellectual disabilities. The issue emerged in early 2017 with disagreement between the HSE and Sisters of Charity over who was responsible for the staff when the centre was de-registered. 

“The Section 39 organisation was governed by the Sisters of Charity until the HSE stepped in in March 2017. Within months, HIQA published a report on foot of a visit to the centre which identified major non-compliance issues in key areas. These issues have been resolved and with the agreement which has been reached for COPE Foundation to assume the operations of the service the future of the workforce is also now ensured. 

“Throughout this time the staff maintained continuity of service. The staff have worked with the residents for many years. They know them and wanted to ensure their wellbeing and that they could live as independently as possible.

“We received today (Thursday, 3rd September) correspondence from the HSE inviting both SIPTU and the INMO to meet its representatives on Thursday next, 10th September, to commence discussions and negotiations in relation to the impending transfer. At this meeting union representatives will be ensuring that this transfer of undertakings progresses successfully. 

“The COPE Foundation is a Section 38 organisation. As such it is funded to provide a defined level of service on behalf of the HSE and will provide workers with improved terms and conditions of employment.”

She added: “The transfer of these services to the COPE Foundation is a very welcome development which should ensure the best outcome for the workers and residents of the St Vincent’s Centre.”

01/09/2020 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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SIPTU condemns NAS management for failure to pay members’ wages in full

SIPTU representatives have today (Tuesday, 1st September) condemned the National Ambulance Service (NAS) management for failing to pay emergency medical technicians (EMTs) their full wages due to staff shortages in the payroll department. 

SIPTU Ambulance Sector Organiser, Miriam Hamilton, said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, our members in the NAS have gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide a full emergency service in communities across the country. Our members also took on a substantial amount of additional and crucial roles to swab and test for Covid-19. They have visited people’s homes, residential services, meat factories and established pop up testing facilities in communities to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This is no way to treat these loyal and dedicated workers who have been on the frontline from day one.”

She added: “It is deeply frustrating and of great concern that the NAS management has today advised us that due to staffing shortages in the payroll department emergency medical technicians in Intermediate Care Services will only get basic pay, with no shift pay or overtime. It’s not acceptable. Our members working on the frontline are essentially being financially penalised for the failure of the HSE to recruit vital frontline staff into the service.”

16/06/2020 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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COVID-19 Advice for SIPTU Health members

COVID-19 is a new disease in the human population and the national and international situation is dynamic and evolving. To assist SIPTU Health members during this time of crisis a new information line and email address has been set up.

You can read all the HSE Circulars on the Covid-19 crisis here

The HSE has developed a Frequently Asked Questions sheet that will be updated regularly.

You can also read the National Action Plan on Coronavirus here

CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR HEALTH?

STAFF AT HIGHER RISK OF CONTACT WITH COVID-19

SIPTU has sought the following commitments from management in the HSE and elsewhere with regard to staff who must work in environments of particular risk with regard to Covid-19:

  1. Wherever possible, volunteers for such tasks should be sought in the first instance
  2. For the protection of patients, clients, the public and workers themselves, staff must have the training and qualifications required to the undertake tasks and functions they are allocated safely and effectively
  3. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and training in the use and disposal of PPE, will be provided along with any other necessary supports (eg, mental health support) that can reasonably be expected
  4. The individual family circumstances of staff will be taken into account when people are being allocated to tasks and functions. In particular, those living with – or whose caring responsibilities demand contact with – elderly and other high-risk groups should not be obliged to work in high-risk areas except in very exceptional circumstances
  5. Wherever possible, such workers will also receive other practical supports from their employer (eg, childcare supports)
  6. There will be equity in the application of these criteria.

ADVICE TO HEALTH WORKERS

All of us in SIPTU and across the nation are hugely grateful to the large number of health staff, of all grades, whose job might put them in contact with people who have the coronavirus.

This advice is based on HSE occupational health guidelines.

REPORTING FOR WORK

Reporting for work: General

SIPTU Health continues to advise members to report for work as normal unless:

  • You have been told not to attend work by your manager or HR department
  • Remote working arrangements have been put in place, and you have been told to work at home by your manager or HR department
  • You have a medical reason for not attending work
  • You are self-isolating on medical or HSE advice.

SIPTU Health members who are not attending work for approved coronavirus-related reasons – or on medical advice – will receive basic pay including fixed allowances from day one. Coronavirus-related sick leave will not be counted as part of the employee’s sick leave record, so long as they have medical or HSE confirmation of the need to self-isolate. But you must follow the guidelines published by the HSE which are available HERE.

If you have followed SIPTU/DPER advice and still encounter problems with your line manager or HR department, you should contact the union in the message box at the end of this page.

Current recommendations for the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the management of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are available HERE

HSE Memo re Redeployment Policy. HR Circular 15/2020

All traditional regular and rostered earnings must be considered if a review of rosters is being undertaken due to COVID-19. This review must take into account all regular earnings including on-call and overtime. The period for review is 6 weeks prior to the 20th March 2020 (date of introduction of the policy) and this can be adjusted if the employee was on sick leave or annual leave in order to get a true value of regular rostered earnings.

The clause is essential to ensure our members are not financially disadvantaged if interim rosters are introduced for the duration of COVID-19.

Reporting for work: Childcare difficulties

You will not automatically be paid if you are absent for work because of childcare difficulties arising from school or crèche closures.

However, DPER has called on managers and employees to be flexible in such circumstances, and has advised public service employers to support staff experiencing childcare problems including by enabling home working or introducing flexible shifts, staggered shifts, longer opening hours or weekend working. You can read more HERE.

Read the HSE’s circular on Childcare HERE and the accompanying guidance letter HERE. (Please note the two letters must be read together to understand the measures on offer). 

Reporting for work: self-isolating

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) issued new advice, on Monday 16th March, on what employees should do if they have to go into self-quarantine or self-isolation as a result of the Covid-19 virus. You can read a FAQ document HERE

UPDATED: Reporting for work: Pregnant women reporting for work

The HSE has advised pregnant women to take extra care. If you are pregnant and concerned about attending work, you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE. Note that agreed HSE guidelines say pregnant staff will be transferred to non-contact roles.

Current HSE occupational health advice says management has a responsibility to redeploy pregnant staff from direct contact with people with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 if requested. The same advice says pregnant staff who have said they want to be redeployed cannot be rostered to work with coronavirus patients.

Reporting for work: ‘Vulnerable groups’

If you are in vulnerable group (ie, if you are over 60 or have a long-term medical condition like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure), you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

Reporting for work: Staff recently returned from abroad

Staff who have recently returned from abroad – particularly from restricted areas as defined by the Department of Foreign Affairs, should follow HSE guidelines and/or seek medical advice.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

Reporting for work: Members who’ve recently recovered from a critical illness

If you’ve recently recovered from a critical illness, have recently been signed fit for work, but are concerned that you might be particularly vulnerable to the virus, you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

If you encounter problems with your employer

If you have followed SIPTU Health/DPER advice and still encounter problems with your line manager or HR department, you should contact the union.

Members are strongly advised to co-operate with management in its efforts to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus, protect the health and safety of citizens and workers, and maintain essential services – including when this means doing different things, in different ways, at different times.

Guidance issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which is available HERE, says staff redeployment across the civil and public services could be required to ensure the maintenance of essential services. It also called for the reassignment of staff within organisations to prioritise the most critical services.

The union is in constant liaison with management to ensure that appropriate protective and containment measures are in place.

If you have genuine concerns about the health and safety of yourself or others, or if you genuinely believe that collective agreements are being seriously breached without union consultation, you should contact the union

PROTECTIONS FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS WHO SELF-ISOLATE OR CONTRACT COVID-19

SIPTU Health members who contract the Covid-19 virus, or who are advised to self-isolate by a medical practitioner, will receive basic pay including fixed allowances from day one. Coronavirus-related sick leave will not be counted as part of the employee’s sick leave record, so long as they have medical or HSE confirmation of the need to self-isolate.

SIPTU HEALTH: HERE TO SUPPORT YOU

SIPTU Health is here to protect you if you have problems arising from the coronavirus or other workplace issues.

The best way to contact the union at this time is on our new information line 01-858 3699, by emailing covid19info@siptuhealth.ie or by filling in the box below.

    02/06/2020 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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    SIPTU says health workers have a right to the truth

    SIPTU Health Division representatives have called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris to ensure information relating to the Covid-19 infection rates of all health workers is released without delay.

    SIPTU Health Division Organiser Paul Bell said: “Health workers have a right to the truth. This vital information is available but currently being held by Department of Health and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) under lock and key. We are calling on the Minister to intervene and ensure that this potentially life-saving data is released immediately.”

    “The reality is that SIPTU representatives have sought answers as to why nearly 8,000 health workers have contracted the Covid-19 virus, why nearly a third of all Covid-19 infections are health workers, and why six health workers died of the disease, for weeks now.

    The data SIPTU representatives have requested is simple and straightforward.

    Firstly, we want the location of where each health worker contracted the virus, followed by the grade of the health worker, as well as the gender and age group. These questions need to be answered. Two weeks ago, the Health Service Executive (HSE) made a promise to release the data on the HPSC website. This commitment did not materialise which is in itself extremely disturbing.”

    “We know that this data is available and we note that elements of this data has already appeared in the pages of the national press. It is our clear understanding that information gleaned by the HSE for the purpose of Occupational Health cannot be transferred to State Claims on a technicality, which the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has been deliberating for a lengthy period of time. This posturing by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner on a technical point about the use of information for a purpose of which it was not collected is putting the lives of health workers at risk and is allowing the Department of Health to block the release of information which it already has in its possession.”

    He added: “Media reports in recent days make specific reference to nurses and midwives sustaining 35% of all Covid-19 infections. This is deeply concerning and warrants attention. However, the data published by the HPSC goes back to mid-April, and that same data also confirmed that allied health professionals, including radiographers and physiotherapists, account for 25% of all infections in the health service, health care assistants account for 17.8%, doctors 11.5%, porters 1.5% and 8.4% of those infected are currently not categorised. We suspect the uncategorised are deployed in the support services, as these are the categories in which the fatalities so far identified have occurred.”

    “There is no need for any further obstruction or drama on this specific matter. The Minister for Health must issue an instruction that this information be immediately released. This is not only in the public interest, but in the interest of the health and safety of all health workers. Workers we all rely upon to protect us, in this time of anxiety and uncertainty.”

    13/03/2020 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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    Advanced paramedic on collecting samples for Covid-19 tests

    THE decision to use the ambulance service to collect samples from households around the country in a bid to combat the spread of Covid-19 is unprecedented, according to advanced paramedic Richard Quinlan, chief ambulance officer for the North Leinster region, who has paid tribute to the outstanding work being undertaken by frontline health service staff in the battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

    Read full article here

    10/03/2020 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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    Advice for health staff

    All of us in SIPTU and across the nation are hugely grateful to the large number of health and welfare staff, of all grades, whose job means they are – or could be – in contact with people who have the coronavirus.

    We appreciate that this puts you at higher risk than most, and we value and admire the exceptional contribution you’re making in this crisis.

    The HSE has issued various guidelines for workers in this situation, including this on healthcare worker management by occupational health.’

    It says staff should not be rostered to work with coronavirus patients if they don’t have appropriately-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE). And they should be trained in the proper use of PPE.

    It also says pregnant staff, and those with a medical vulnerability, should not be rostered to work with coronavirus patients if they have indicated a desire to be redeployed.

    The guidance identifies some basic steps required to prevent the transmission of the virus in healthcare settings.

    These include instruction and training about the virus, modes of transmission and the measures staff should take to protect themselves.

    It also says employers should provide a safe work environment including through the provision of appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE). It identifies the need for training and staff competency in coronavirus-related infection control practices and procedures, including the proper use and disposal of PPE.

    It says managers are responsible for:

    • Providing adequate resources for the prevention and management of coronavirus
    • Advising staff about the terms and conditions of sick leave and special leave with pay
    • Identifying staff in contact with confirmed cases of Covid-19 and referring any possible close contacts to Occupational Health for contact tracing
    • Maintaining and providing access to contact packs within the clinical and hospital settings,
    • And redeploying pregnant or immunocompromised staff from direct contact with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 if the person has requested this.

    It says staff must:

    • Follow the guidance provided by Occupational Health, Public Health and their manager.
    • Immediately act to self-isolate if they have been identified as a contact and become unwell at work, and inform their manager and Occupational Health so that appropriate testing can be arranged.

    The guidance also covers a range of other issues including the management of exposure in the workplace, the management of contacts and close contacts, self-quarantine, the role of Occupational Health, and health workers returning from abroad.

    The HSE has also published professional guidance for healthcare professionals.

    08/03/2020 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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    HSE Circulars 2020

    A total of 19 Circulars have issued since 6th April 2020 – 7 relate to COVID-19.

    HR Circular 024 2020 COVID-19 – Employment Permits System Contingency Arrangements

    HR Circular 025 2020 Correction to Rates of Pay for Health Care Assistant and Theatre Porter/Attendant

    HR Circular 026 2020 – Revision to Redeployment Policy during COVID-19

    HR Circular 027 2020 Updated FAQs re working arrangements and leave associated with COVID-19

    HR Circular 028 2020 New Temporary Grades Codes Final Year Academic Nurse/Midwife Students in Response to COVID-19

    HR Circular 029 2020 Revised arrangements for Change in Contract requests during the COVID-19 Outbreak

    HR Circular 030 2020 Changes to Employment Permits for NCHDs

    HR Circular 031 2020 Revised Redeployment Policy

    HR Circular 032 2020 COVID-19 Transmission Risk Mitigation Guidance

    HR Circular 033 2020 Working arrangements for those with caring arrangements during COVID-19

    HR Circular 034 2020 Guidance and FAQs for Public Service Employers during COVID-19 in relation to working arrangements and temporary assignments across the Public Service

    HR Circular 035 2020 Pilot Pre-Retirement Initiative for Nurses Midwives during COVID-19

    HR Circular 036 2020 HIPE at Hospital Departments

    HR Circular 037 2020 Student Radiographers

    HR Circular 038 2020 COVID-19 new absence codes and change on absence reporting

    HR Circular 039 2020 Change to Sleepover hourly rate due to an increase in National Minimum Wage

    HR Circular 040 2020 Sponsorship for Public Health Service Employees wishing to train as Nurses/Midwives

    HR Circular 041 2020 Implementation of additional roles within the general support staff grades

    HR Circular 042 2020 Guidance and FAQs for Public Service Employers during COVID-19 in relation to working arrangements and temporary assignments across the Public Service

    29/02/2020 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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    Redeployment during COVID19

    All traditional regular and rostered earnings must be considered if a review of rosters is being undertaken due to COVID-19.

    This review must take into account all regular earnings including on-call and overtime. The period for review is 6 weeks prior to the 20th March 2020 (date of introduction of the policy) and this can be adjusted if the employee was on sick leave or annual leave in order to get a true value of regular rostered earnings.

    This clause below essential to ensure our members are not financially disadvantaged if interim rosters are introduced for the duration of COVID-19.

    If you experience any issues please contact your local representative or shop steward.