Mental Health in the workplace
In these uncertain times there has been a greater degree of attention on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
While some workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity, performance and impact on your physical and emotional health. It can also affect your relationships with friends and family. You can’t control everything in your work environment, however that doesn’t mean that you’re powerless – even when you are stuck in a difficult situation.
In regards to your workplace rights, mental health is treated the same as any other illness or injury. Under your award there is no higher requirement for evidence of a mental illness or injury when it comes to applying for leave or other flexibility arrangements.
You can take steps to protect yourself from the damaging effects of stress, improve your job satisfaction and bolster your wellbeing outside of the workplace. The USU has some very useful information and resources available on our website https://usu.org.au/happy-at-work/
If you feel you are being treated differently or not being heard, have any concerns or questions about mental health issues please talk with your delegate or organiser.
OVERTIME v TOIL & MEAL ALLOWANCE
Your Union recently emailed you regarding the application of TOIL v OT under the award and in relation as to how the payment of meal allowance applies in both instances. Around this time the Union also wrote to management and reinforced our position in these matters.
In short you can elect to be paid overtime at the appropriate overtime rate or elect to accumulate TOIL. This is totally up to you. You cannot be forced to accumulate TOIL if your preference is to be paid the overtime rate. When it comes to expending any TOIL you have accumulated, you cannot be directed to use your TOIL within a certain pay period. Meal Allowance is payable on additional hours. Whether overtime worked is paid at the appropriate overtime rate or the employee elects to receive Time Off in Lieu of overtime, it has no bearing on the payment of the meal allowance.
Goldenfields Management has written to your Union and concedes that the meal allowance is payable whether an employee elects to be paid overtime or take time in lieu.
Management will be undertaking an internal audit of TIL over the last 6 years to identify instances where staff have worked overtime and accrued TIL and the allowance may not have been awarded.
Management have committed to conduct a review and provide reimbursements to affected employees by 31 October 2020.
Management have adopted the stance that excluded from this will be the TIL hours paid out to employees at the all-inclusive flat rate of 1.75 times, as part of the negotiations with the Union for the implementation of the 2020 Award. The Union would like to hear from affected members on what they think and feel about this imposed exclusion category.
INSECURE WORK AND BARRIERS TO DEVELOPMENT AND PROGRESSION
In recent discussions the Union has raised with management the issue of fixed term contract positions. A recent audit revealed that approximately 14% of Goldenfields workforce will be engaged on fixed term contracts.
Fixed term contracts are often utilised for short term project work and can provide opportunities for internal development and cross training leading to more diverse work opportunities and progression. This is particularly important in a council such as Goldenfields where these opportunities are already limited by the size and scope of the organisation.
Whilst these opportunities are advertised to both internal and external applicants, management has taken a position that if you as an internal applicant were to be successful then Goldenfields would not maintain your substantive position for you to return to at the end of the fixed term contract. The Union believes that this disadvantages our members and is a barrier to both professional development and progression. In other similar organisations members are encouraged to take up internal opportunities and external secondments and have the security that their substantive positions are maintained to permit them to do so without disadvantage. The Union will be taking this information to management to respond to at a meeting planned for 8 September.
The Union has wider concerns regarding the use of fixed term contracts. Overuse of fixed term contracts is evidence of a creeping business model that promotes the fragmentation of traditional employment arrangements and the shifting of financial risk from employers to workers. Whilst this is an ongoing discussion, your Union will be keenly interested to witness the conversion rate to permanent positions as these contracts reach their expiry dates.
Sub-Contracting of I.T services
Management have indicated their intention to remove from the organisational structure the position of the ICT Officer – formerly the role of Jamie Gordon. They have indicated they do not intended to fill this role, rather remove it from the Organisational Structure and contract external consultants and contractors to undertake higher level I.T functions. The Union has recognised that there may be some merit in engaging external expertise in the short term to work through outstanding I.T projects and develop strategic direction in this area. However it has voiced concerns about taking such a dramatic step without fully understanding which employees will be affected and undertaking consultation with them prior to a decision being made. The Union also voiced concerns about the removal of a fulltime graduate position from a regional town like Temora. These opportunities are few and far between in our regions and removal of any local jobs has even greater significance in smaller towns. This has also left other members questioning their role into the future if more positions are outsourced.
Whilst the Union is naturally opposed to the removal of any positions within the Organisation Structure it has recommended to keep the ICT Officer vacant within the Organisational Structure for the next 12 months and undertake a review of the impact to members as well as the cost and effectiveness of external contractors before any decision is made. We are waiting for a response from management.
Join our Team: EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST FOR USU DELEGATE
With the tragic passing of our comrade Jamie Gordon the Union is seeking expressions of interest from members who are interested in becoming a workplace delegate.
A union delegate is another union member just like you. They have a job to do every day, and they answer to the same management that you do. The key difference is that a union delegate has training, tools and protections to help you and other members solve problems at work! In short, the job of a Delegate is to act as representative of the Union in the workplace. In conjunction with USU officials, the duty of a Delegate is to advance and protect the interests of the Union and the wages, conditions and welfare of its members.
If you are would like to express an interest in becoming a USU Delegate please email Mick Jones on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0450 020 589.