The negotiations for improvements to job roles, pay rates and career paths for public sector Health Professionals have now reached a critical phase.

The employers are now costing HSU-HP’s detailed proposal to the Reclassification Review, which was submitted in late April. Unless the employers seek to delay, an agreed outcome should be achievable within the next few weeks.

Background to the Reclassification Review

Public sector Health Professional members will be very familiar with the background to the Review, but for those new to the issue, it deals with one of the key matters left outstanding from the 2011 public sector Enterprise Agreement.

Under the Victorian Public Health Sector (Health Professionals, Health and Allied Services, Managers and Administrative Officers) Enterprise Agreement 2011-2015, employers agreed to set aside $15 million for implementing the outcomes of a ‘Reclassification Review’.

The Review is being overseen by an Agreement Implementation Committee which consists of representatives from the Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association (VHIA), the HSU and the Department of Health.

Since coming into office in late 2012, the new HSU-HP leadership has put a huge amount of effort into preparing a detailed proposal to the Review.

The Union proposes a comprehensive set of measures to improve the skills and knowledge of Health Professionals, enhance their career paths and promote the attraction and retention of staff.

Our proposal includes, among other things, the adoption of a transparent process for individuals to seek a higher classification or grade, an additional experience payment for long-serving professionals at the top of their grade, and a student supervision allowance.

The proposal also seeks to enhance the career paths and classifications of Anaesthetic Technicians, Renal Dialysis Techs, Sonographers, Mechanical Officers, Professional Diversion Therapists and Radiation Engineers.

The Union has also submitted a prioritised list to the VHIA of those departments most in need of an additional Grade 4 clinical educator position. We do not anticipate that this will be problematic in that the Union’s priorities and the Department’s are both premised in genuine need.

Possible negotiation sticking points

The Union’s strong view is that the original aim of the Reclassification Project was to deliver additional pay and conditions primarily for health professionals given the relatively smaller pay outcome they gained in the last Enterprise Agreement negotiations. This view continues to inform our negotiating position.

While the Union is optimistic about achieving a positive outcome for members, we are mindful of the fact that the HSU Victoria No. 1 Branch continue to lobby for a large proportion of the funding to go to non-professional health employees under their coverage.

“We have put a lot of work into this proposal and we are hoping for a positive response by the Department in the very near future,” said Craig McGregor, HSUHP Secretary.

“Our members deserve better recognition for their contribution to Victoria’s public health system, more help for the professional development they undertake and more secure career paths. Thousands of public sector Health Professionals stand to benefit from our proposal, and we are looking forward to an agreed outcome in short order,” said Mr McGregor.

Main elements of the union’s reclassification proposal

The main elements of the union’s Reclassification Proposal include:

1)    Professional development allowance of $1000 a year to undertake relevant health courses, seminars, conferences and other PD to develop skills and knowledge.

2)      Licensing and Registration Allowance to assist certain disciplines with $500 a year to maintain professional licensing and registration, including:

–  Medical Imaging Technologists

–  Nuclear Medicine Technologists

–  Occupational Therapists

–  Podiatrists

–  Physiotherapists

–  Radiation Therapy Technologists

–  Sonographers

3)    Conference and seminar leave entitlement for time off in lieu of pay for attending conferences when staff are not normally required to work (mainly on weekends).

4)    Study leave requests t not be unreasonably refused by employers.

5)    Formalising the entitlement for professional development leave for part time health professionals.

6)    Higher duties allowance for one day or more worked in a higher classified position.

7)    Transparent reclassification procedure by which health professionals can seek a different classification or grade, with a right of review when requests are refused.

8)    Student supervision allowance of $8.16 per hour per student supervised on a shift which would apply to Grade 2 health professionals in a range of professions.

9)    ‘Experience Payment’ of an extra $50 a week for every five years health professionals are at the top increment of their grade. This payment would recognise the extra skills, experience and knowledge these health professionals have obtained, including the  more efficient manner in which they undertake their work.

10)  Reclassify Anaesthetic Technicians/Technologists as health professionals in recognition of their skills, knowledge and the value of the work they perform.

11)  Create a new Sonographer classification based on the Medical Imaging Technologist classification.

12)  Create a new Mechanical Officer classification in order to enhance the career path of health professionals who are currently covered by the Technical Officer classification.

13)  Significantly restructure the Radiation Engineers classifications to enhance their career path and pay rates by eliminating some of the lower grades and increments and by adding an additional grade.

14)  Create a Professional Diversion Therapist classification similar to other Professional Therapist definitions in the Agreement.