Important Updates for Junior and Senior Medical Officers - member input required

Posted September 12, 2014

There are a number of issues raised with your union office that require your feedback and involvement to resolve. How widely and deeply felt these issues are and how willing members are to take action to support your entitlements may be decisive in the outcome.

Junior Medical Officers
Senior Medical Officers

Junior Medical Officers

  • Leave after periods of higher duties

In Cairns Health and Hospital Service, management have made a decision that junior doctors acting in a higher position (e.g., as a PHO) who take leave immediately following their acting will no longer be paid leave at the higher pay level. This may also be occurring in other HHSs. The management interpretation looks to be a breach of QH policy which states: An employee is to be paid at the rate they were receiving immediately prior to commencing leave. Interestingly it also says: Managers are to ensure that arrangements are handled reasonably and fairly, e.g. it is considered unreasonable for a Hospital and Health Service to place an employee in their substantive position after a period of higher duties just before the taking of leave and then return the employee to the higher duties at the conclusion of the leave.

Please let us know if this is occurring in your HHS and we can assist members to receive the correct entitlement. Talk to your colleagues about joining Together to be involved in fixing this issue.

  • RMO award update and MOCA4

The award that provides safety net conditions for junior doctors has been "modernised" and stripped of rights and conditions by the Qld Government. This new award will take effect once MOCA4 is negotiated and comes into effect next year.

This next round of negotiations is going to be very important for junior doctors and potentially for the Qld public health system. Traditionally, SMOs and RMOs have bargaining as one group for your conditions of employment and SMO members have been more active and involved. Next year, the agreement negotiated will apply only to RMOs with most SMOs forced onto individual contracts. Retaining or improving your existing conditions of employment, a fair pay rise and the way that junior doctors are treated by the health system will be decided by how active junior doctors get in your union and in the bargaining campaign.

  • Other issues?

Are there other things going on in your hospital or health facility? Talk to your colleagues and let us know. health@together.org.au; 1800 177 244

Senior Medical Officers

  • Payment for extended hours under MOCA3

Under the MOCA3 agreement, if someone was working in an extended hours arrangement, a loading was payable for all hours worked after 4 pm on a weekday. QH is trying to say that this means that loading was paid only on the hours worked after 4 in a shift that extends beyond 6pm. We say that the words are quite clear that the loading applies to all ordinary hours after 4pm for those people who are in an extended hours arrangement. Together doctors representative Dr David Spain and an industrial advocate from the union office attended a conference before the Industrial Relations Commission who accepted that on the face of it our view seemed likely to be correct but we needed to "narrow the scope" of the matter. This means we need to know who, in what disciplines, what facilities and what HHSs have been incorrectly paid in extended hours arrangements. We are seeking information about the period between the introduction of MOCA3 (1 November 2012) and the introduction of contracts (4 August 2014). For those who have not signed a contract, the MOCA3 clause will continue beyond that date.

Members being involved in this activity is also very important for the outcome. If there is enough pressure on the department to resolve this issue collectively for all affected members then a successful outcome is more likely and will proceed much more quickly, than if the individual members need to make individual unpaid wages claims. Please let us know if you believe you have been paid inappropriately and talk to your colleagues about being involved. Please email health@together.org.au or call 1800 177 244 with your information and any questions.

  • Payment for recall on a public holiday under individual contracts

We have also become aware that QH and some districts may not be paying members correctly for recall that occurs on a public holiday. Management are arguing that if you are do recall on a public holiday you are paid nothing by AVAC because you should already have been remunerated through tier 2S. They are arguing that in at least some cases that doctors are rostered on but "stood down" for public holidays and therefore already paid for the day. However stand down doesn't appear anywhere in your contract or terms and conditions of employment. They have also said that Recall will only apply if an SMO Dr is not rostered at all on the day. This is clearly not true as recall outside of rosters hours is recall, whichever way they slice it.

This is obviously very concerning and may turn out to be an important fight to have as one of the first potential disputes about the contracts.

Please let us know whether you have been paid or denied recall payments on public holidays and talk to your colleagues about joining Together to fight for fair interpretations of your contractual rights.

Please email health@together.org.au or call 1800 177 244 with your information and any questions.

  • MEDAVACS and overtime

Members have also raised concerns over new MEDAVAC forms and processes and in particular the vacuum of information and advice provided in some HHSs. MEDAVAC forms are being returned to doctors and overtime or recall is not being paid due to simple administrative errors such as typos. There are also apparently strictly applied bureaucratic hoops to jump through such as using the word approved for each instance or the OT etc will not be paid. There is a risk that these payments are not being made and doctors are not even aware of it.

Please review the new MEDAVAC form carefully and clarify with management what the expectations are for these forms. Carefully review your payslips to see that you have been paid correctly (information from QH hereabout your payslips) and contact the Together office if you have concerns about your own payments or the new processes around these forms and payment of overtime.

Please email health@together.org.au or call 1800 177 244 with your information and any questions.

  • Contract Advisory Committee

Don't forget to vote for Dr Suzanne Royle (Metro) or Dr Derek Holroyd (Rural and Remote) this week if you work in eligible areas and congratulations to Dr Sandy Donald (Regional) and Dr Mark Ross (VMO) on their election unopposed. See more here.