As part of our members meetings and discussions with Delegates, we’ve had many questions raised regarding flexible working hours and the rights of Ministry of Health members. We understand that some members are being given incorrect information or not being allowed appropriate access to their flexible working hours entitlements.
The Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award 2009 commits the parties to this Award, including Ministry of Health, to:
21.1 Fostering flexible work practices with the intention of providing greater flexibility in dealing with workloads, work deadlines and balance between work and family life. All parties are committed to manage time worked to prevent any forfeiture of credit hours.
Refer HERE for the award.
The NSW Health Local Working Hours Agreement 2010 includes as a key principal that:
2.1.2 “The introduction of this agreement is intended to improve the Department’s organisational performance and increase flexibility for all staff members to ensure that there is an appropriate balance between work and personal commitments.
Unfortunately, this is not the experience of some hard working and dedicated staff of the Ministry of Health. Members have raised with us how hard it can be to leave the office earlier, start later or take a flex day, despite the fact your Award entitles you to do so.
Recently, a number of concerns about the operation of flex time have been raised with the PSA. Many of these issues have been raised numerous times previously.
I wanted to take a flex day but my manager said no because I have too much work to do and I am not up to date with all my tasks.
WRONG – Many staff have excessive workloads that may have ongoing and continuous tasks. It is entirely appropriate to request a flex day in accordance with your entitlements so that you can have a day off and look after your own health and well-being.
I wanted to leave at 3.30pm for family reasons and my manager directed me to take personal leave
WRONG – the Award clearly states that coretime shall be at a minimum between the hours of 9.30am and 3.30pm and the direction to take personal leave for wanting to leave the office at 3.30pm is contrary to the Award.
I wanted to leave early to go to the dentist at 4pm but my manager said no and I should do this on a flex day. The only problem is, I can’t take a flex day “for operational reasons.”
WRONG – on two fronts as a 4pm dental appointment is outside of coretime so it shouldn’t be an issue and you can take three flex days in the six-week flex period.
My manager has asked what I want the flex day for and has then told me that I can’t use flex, but has directed that I use rec or some other sort of leave.
WRONG – Your manager cannot direct you which sort of leave to take. Approval or denial of your flex leave is not based upon the purpose of your flex day. Your manager’s role is purely to approve within the requirements of the Award.
My manager has directed that I not work more than seven hours in a day even though there is productive work and I would like to build up my hours to take flex days.
WRONG – As long as there is productive work you cannot be restricted from working more than seven hours to build up credit for flex-days. You are entitled to take up three flex days in a six week period, you may also carry over up to 28 hours credit to the following period. In addition, if in a period you have taken one or less flex days and have sufficient credit hours you may be able to bank up two days (maximum number of banked days is two).
The PSA recognises that the Ministry of Health provide vital services and support to the Health field within NSW. This can include providing time critical advice. That means managers have to manage their staff to ensure coverage as required.
Sensible management might mean talking to staff and learning that some people prefer to work 9-5 while others prefer an earlier or later start. We consistently hear that management takes the easy way out by mandating that all staff must work 9-5 for operational reasons. This is a breach of the Local Working Hours Agreements and the Award.
Flex time and taking flex days are entitlements under the Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award 2009 and are enshrined in the current NSW Health Local Working Hours Agreement 2012.
With consultation, discussion, common sense and on occasions a spirit of compromise there should be no difficulty in providing a quality service to NSW while also accommodating staff requests to work the hours that generally suit them and allow them to meet family, caring, study or other commitments.
Your entitlements are the result of hard won gains by the union movement and the workers we represent. Don’t be intimidated into giving up you flex time. If you continue to experience difficulties, please contact the PSA’s Member Support Centre in the first instance – telephone 1300 772 679.
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