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Community Services Clarification of Flexible Working Hours agreements

Mar 28, 2017

Community Services Clarification of Flexible Working Hours agreement – March 2017 (PDF version)


FACS – Community Services has two flexible working hours agreements which have been agreed with the PSA:

  • The Standard Flexible Working Hours Agreement found HERE.
  • The Field Flexible Working Hours Agreement found HERE.

These agreements are intended to benefit both staff and the Department. In particular, FACS benefits from work done before 9am and after 5pm during field flex time to suit clients’ needs, or to meet deadlines, in particular court documentation. In return for the absence of overtime or penalty rates both agreements gives staff the right to have two flex days per four-week period subject to certain conditions.

Your right of two flex days per period

There is often a lack of understanding among some FACS managers and staff about the right for staff to have two flex days. It is your entitlement under the agreements, subject to Departmental convenience as to what days are convenient for both you and your local management.

Clause 13 of both Agreements provides that:


(i) All staff are entitled to take up to two (2) flex days in any settlement period.

(ii) These days may be taken consecutively.

(iii) The two flexi leave days may be taken as either two (2) full days or four (4) half days or combinations thereof.

(iv) Flex leave can only be taken subject to Departmental convenience and the prior approval of an employee’s supervisor is necessary in every case.

Departmental convenience means FACS managers need to ensure adequate staffing levels and not approve flex leave for all staff in a particular location/cluster on the same day, or a day a particular worker has a fundamental unchangeable work commitment, such as attending a court. They can also ensure the staff member will be able to work their minimum contract hours in the settlement period.

This does not mean workers can start work early or finish late merely to build up their flex hours. There has to be work to coincide with their start and finish times. It would be extremely unusual for a worker not to have adequate work within the range of starting and finishing times. Most Position/Role Descriptions within FACS give staff a reasonable amount of autonomy regarding the management of workloads. Within these constraints and provided the worker will not be carrying more than 10 hours deficit into the next settlement period, it is the manager’s responsibility to assist the worker to access requested flex leave within the settlement period.

This means both workers and management need to be able to give options about which days of flex leave can be approved.  If your request is declined on your nominated day for flex your manager needs to give appropriate reasons. You then have the ability to suggest an alternative.  Managers should not decline suggested days without agreeing on another two days which are suitable to the staff member (if possible) within the period.

It is neither reasonable nor acceptable for managers to simply advise workers that approval of flex leave (be it the first or second flex day in a period) is conditional on the worker being up to date with all their work.

The decision to approve or decline requested flex days should be given in a timely manner (such as within 48 hours) to enable staff to plan for their flex days.

Both agreements also recognise that Community Services Centres need to open during business hours. The agreements require that:

  • all areas of the Department of Community Services must be appropriately staffed between the hours of operation of each office Monday to Friday
  • management and staff will work co-operatively to ensure the service requirements of each office are achieved
  • management may require that certain positions be available during certain hours due to the requirements of those positions. This should be negotiated between management and staff concerned bearing in mind the spirit and intent of this Agreement.

The agreements further provide that:

(i) the normal business hours of the Department of Community Services, as determined by management, will be either 8.30am to 4.30pm; or 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday

(ii) All areas of the Department of Community Services must be adequately staffed between these hours.

The spirit and intent of these agreements is one of give and take, supported by genuine negotiation between staff and their managers. Ideally, in most instances suitable arrangements will be made that are fair to you, your colleagues and management.

What is the PSA doing?

FACS cannot change these agreements without consulting with the PSA. Members can be assured  the PSA will continue to protect your hard-won entitlements to flexible working hours.

What you can do?

In the event that you experience difficulties having your request for a flex day approved please contact your local delegate or the PSA’s Member Support Centre on 1300 772 679. Matters that cannot be resolved will be referred to one of the PSA’s designated Community Services industrial or organising staff.

You can support the work of the PSA and your local delegates by asking your colleagues to JOIN the Union.

Campbelltown Court House Meeting notice

Mar 28, 2017

Campbelltown Court House meeting notice – March 2017 (PDF version)

The PSA will be in attendance at Campbelltown Court House to talk to members and non-members during the lunchtime period. Details of the meeting are given below:

Thursday 6 April 2017


Jury Assembly Room

Items of Discussion

  • Benefits of PSA membership
  • Update on the Department of Justice’s proposed Flexible Working Hours Agreement
  • Update on PSA Pay Case, Your Pay Rise in 2017!

Anything raised will be treated with strict confidentiality.

Membership forms will be available for those wishing to sign up on the day and all staff are encouraged to join the PSA and be involved by having a say in how their workplace is run.

It’s time to get involved!

For more information contact the PSA on: 1300 772 679

Private providers under spotlight on Four Corners tonight

Mar 27, 2017

Private providers under spotlight on Four Corners tonight – March 2017 (PDF version)

PSA calls on all members to watch tonight…

Alleged mistreatment and abuse at one of Australia’s largest privately operated disability services providers, Lifestyle Solutions, is the subject of a special investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners which will be aired tonight.

The PSA has repeatedly called on the NSW Government to retain direct delivery of disability services to ensure a safety net if providers fail, cannot provide the necessary services or in extreme cases, mistreat people with disability.

Read more on the Four Corners website HERE.

Get involved online

The PSA encourages all members to get involved online:

  • Tweet Four Corners using @4Corners
  • Follow the Four Corners Facebook page

You can support the work of your delegates and the PSA by asking your colleagues to JOIN their union.

Keep up pressure on MPs

Help us get this issue front and centre by emailing your MP today and asking colleagues, family and friends to join you in fighting against disability privatisation.

Emailing your MP is simple, just click HERE and enter your postcode.

TAFE NSW Bulletin

Mar 24, 2017

TAFE NSW – bulletin – 24 March 2017 (PDF Version)

Your union has been made aware of restructures in several areas:

  • People and Safety
  • Governance, Legal and Risk
  • Procurement
  • Office of the Managing Director
  • Property and Logistics
  • Communications and Marketing.

The PSA (CPSU) is deeply concerned about the potential negative consequences for members, particularly around increased workload and relocation/travel. We are happy to arrange meetings to talk with members in affected areas. Please let us know if you want this to happen.

We will be providing feedback to TAFE. If you have feedback you are sending to TAFE, please copy it to or alternatively please email any feedback you would like us to submit on your behalf.

Please also let us know of any concerns that you may have.

As we work our way through the coming restructures it is important that you have a say and your voice is heard.

You can support the work of the PSA (CPSU) and your local delegates by asking your colleagues to JOIN the PSA (CPSU) HERE.

Please forward this to your colleagues so that they know what their rights are, and encourage them to JOIN the PSA (CPSU) HERE.

TAFE NSW Flexible Working Hours Agreement

Mar 24, 2017

TAFE NSW – flexible working hours agreement – 24 March 2017 (PDF Version)

Your union negotiated a Flexible Working Hours Agreement (FWHA) with TAFE NSW which allows for flex workers to accrue and take up to six Flex Days in any 12-week settlement period.

Specifically, the FWHA states:

“All eligible day workers may take up to six (6) days (or 42 hours) flex time days in the settlement period, as either full days, half days, hours or a combination. At the conclusion of a settlement period an employee may carry forward a time credit of up to 21 hours to the next settlement period.”

As we are approaching the end of your first settlement period under the new Agreement, we want to remind you that you need to make arrangements now for taking your flex days, if you haven’t already done so.

It is important to know that your manager must ensure that you to take your flex leave. You cannot lose the leave because you must be allowed to take it in each 12-week timeframe. Any flex leave accrued above 21 hours must be taken before 31 March.

If this means your local work unit closes for a day or a half day because replacement staff can’t be found, your work unit must close to ensure you do not lose any accrued flex time.

You can also carry over 21 hours into the next settlement period if necessary or if you wish to do so.

Please ensure that if you haven’t yet taken your leave, you negotiate with your manager to take it at a suitable time for both you and TAFE NSW in the coming weeks.

You can support the work of the PSA (CPSU) and your local delegates by asking your colleagues to JOIN the PSA (CPSU) HERE.

Please forward this to your colleagues so that they know what their rights are, and encourage them to JOIN the PSA (CPSU) HERE.

School Learning Support Officers Report back on NSWIRC HCP dispute

Mar 23, 2017

School Learning Support Officers Report back on NSWIRC HCP dispute – March 2017 (PDF version)

Health Care Procedures Dispute – Update

The PSA and the Department of Education (DoE) appeared before the NSW Industrial Relation Commission (NSWIRC) today (2017.03.13) in the Health Care Procedures (HCP) dispute.

Members will recall the DoE has:

  • created a new position School Learning Support Officer (Student Health Support) [SLSO(SHS)] which greatly expands the scope, responsibility and complexity of HCP being delivered to students with complex health needs in NSW public schools
  • advised the PSA it wished to terminate the Tripartite Agreement which sets boundaries on the HCP that SLSOs perform. It advised it wished to cease the current arrangements for Special Considerations Applications having oversight by the Special Considerations Panel comprising the DoE, PSA and NSW Nurses and Midwives Association representatives.

The PSA has continued to press the concerns of SLSOs, who care deeply for the students they assist who are unable to undertake these often invasive HCP themselves.

PSA members have advised they are often subject to duress to volunteer to undertake HCP and if they do not agree, their contracts will not be renewed. Catheterisation and suctioning have continued to be contentious issues raised by PSA members and the PSA has continued to push these concerns with the DoE as part of the HCP dispute.

With the assistance of Commissioner Murphy, it appears the DoE has conceded on a number of crucial aspects of the dispute at today’s hearing. These matters are:

  1. Replacing the current Tripartite Agreement with a policy which sets boundaries on what activities may be performed by an SLSO as part of the students HCP. The difference between the current statement of duties and the proposed statement of duties is vast. For example, the PSA pointed out that the draft statement of duties for the proposed SLSO(SHS) does not restrict reinsertion of enteral tubes which have become dislodged. This and other changes to HCP needs further discussion. The draft policy to replace the Tripartite Agreement will be provided to the PSA within the next four weeks;
  1. Developing a discussion paper which deals with formal accreditation of the training for SLSOs undertaking HCP. The PSA has raised, on behalf of members, concerns about the suitability of the current training not being formally accredited and in consultation with the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, the training not incorporating best clinical practice. Members have advised that facilities may be inadequate in providing a hygienic environment;
  2. Continuation of the accessing by SLSOs of the relevant sections of the students health care plan. The DoE has maintained that this potentially breaches the student’s privacy. The PSA has submitted that when highly personal and invasive HCP such as catheterisation is being performed by SLSOs, a student’s name and the HCP they require can hardly be considered a privacy breach. Further, SLSOs have advised that they have neither been asked to contribute feedback into, nor in some instances been provided access to the students health care plan prior to volunteering to perform the HCP in support of the student. This means that SLSOs are not making informed decisions before they volunteer for HCPs; and,
  1. Continuing to provide information on students and schools where HCPs are being provided. This is a part of the current Special Considerations Panel process and will allow for the PSA to contact SLSO members to identify if they have concerns around training; facilities; knowledge of the students Health Care Plan and other aspects of supporting students with complex health requirements.

The next hearing of the HCP dispute is set for 27 April 2017.

Fast track consultation with Delegates and Special Education Working Group Representatives

Commissioner Murphy from the NSWIRC has set some very strict dates in advance of the next hearing. The DoE is required to supply their draft documentation to the PSA within four weeks. Two weeks after the documentation is received, the parties attend the next hearing at the NSWIRC.

Hopefully the documentation will be provided earlier than expected to allow for greater PSA consultation. However, this can’t be relied upon.

Once the draft policy and discussion paper are provided to the PSA, the documents will be circulated to DC Delegates and the representatives to the Special Education Working Group.

Once the material is circulated, there will be a one-week window of opportunity for receipt of feedback. While it is always very busy running schools and taking care of students, Delegates and Representatives are urged to take some time out to consider the DoE’s draft material.

This HCP dispute is important for SLSOs and students with complex health care needs in the state education sector. Your views are vital and will help the PSA progress the dispute.

This is a historic opportunity to help the PSA to best represent SLSOs providing HCP into the future. We want to hear from you! Feedback will need to be urgently provided as the PSA will need to have a position on those documents for Commissioner Murphy at the next hearing.




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