Enterprise Agreement Updates
November 2019 - compendium dispute update
As you may be aware, in August AMA Victoria took the unusual step of lodging a dispute with every individual health service covered by the AMA Specialist Enterprise Agreement. This step was taken after a year of frustration at the lack of progress in the implementation of new clauses in the agreement, along with long-running disputes over the interpretation of long service leave entitlements. It was also an attempt to bind all the parties to the agreement to the outcomes of the disputes.
Given the unique nature of the compendium dispute, it has taken longer than we would normally expect to have the matter listed by the Fair Work Commission (FWC). We have had some push back from the health services through their representative, the Victorian Hospitals' Industrial Association (VHIA), regarding our ability to run this type of dispute on jurisdictional grounds. They are claiming we should not be able to involve health services not directly involved in the individual disputes which we cited as examples to illustrate the issues.
The first hearing on the matter took place on Wednesday 29 October. AMA Victoria made it clear to the FWC that we feel the VHIA have been creating barriers in the lead-up to the hearing. We had a number of meetings and exchanges of letters over the matter where we asked the VHIA to confirm their positions and views on the matters, however, the VHIA continues to argue over technicalities and jurisdiction.
Whilst we believed that all the matters should have been arbitrated at the hearing on 29 October, we agreed to a day of conciliation on 21 November. At this meeting, we will attempt to negotiate a resolution to the issues with clinical support time and continuing medical education and discuss a way forward for the other matters.
We will continue to keep our members updated on the progress of the compendium dispute, but if you have any questions, please contact the AMA Victoria Workplace Relations team on (03) 9280 8722.
Meanwhile, all Victorian doctors-in-training are currently being asked to participate in the 2019 Hospital Health Check survey. The information provided allows AMA Victoria to engage with health services and government to demand specific changes to working conditions and hospital culture.
General Manager Workplace Relations
As doctors will be aware, AMA Victoria and ASMOF Victoria have lodged a collective dispute involving all 37 health services covered by the Medical Specialists Enterprise Agreement 2018 in relation to a number of ongoing disputes. We have described this as a ‘compendium dispute’ and it is the first of its kind in the medical space in Victoria.
The eight matters in dispute are:
- Long service leave entitlements of fractional specialists who are concurrently employed by two or more health services.
- The continuity of service for long service leave purposes of doctors who are on zero hours casual contracts but have not worked any hours whilst on that contract.
- The calculation of continuous service for the purpose of long service leave entitlements when part of the service is interstate service.
- The date upon which a specialist is considered to have become a specialist, for the purpose of determining the remuneration level of the specialist.
- The service, including periods of leave, of specialists which health services will take into account for the purpose of determining the remuneration level of the specialist.
- The interpretation and application and implementation by health services of Clinical Support Time (CST).
- The interpretation and application and implementation by health services of Continuing Medical Education (CME) support.
- The entitlement of doctors to be paid for a public holiday which falls on a day on which the doctor is not rostered to work.
The first hearing of the AMA/ASMOF Victoria compendium dispute was held at the Fair Work Commission (FWC) on Thursday 5 September. This hearing was an opportunity for the parties to outline their respective positions in relation to the dispute. The Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association (VHIA) put to the Commissioner that they did not believe the AMA/ASMOF had exhausted all avenues in the dispute process in the agreement and therefore the Commission should not yet be able to decide on the majority of the issues raised in the dispute. The AMA/ASMOF Victoria do not agree with this and believe that we have satisfied the requirements under the dispute’s procedures.
The Commissioner has given the parties until 30 September to submit their views in writing as to how the matter should proceed. The Commissioner will then make a decision on what parts of the compendium dispute he believes can go straight to arbitration and what should be conciliated. Conciliation is the step before arbitration, but it is not binding on the parties and does not set a precedent in most cases.
AMA/ASMOF Victoria had initially been willing to agree that some of the eight matters may have been able to be resolved through conciliation, but we have since concluded that there is little likelihood of this occurring and have written to the Commissioner to express our preference for arbitration on all matters. However, the decision on whether or not to go directly to arbitration rests with the Commissioner.
We will report back again after our next hearing in October, but in the meantime if you have any questions please feel free to contact the AMA Victoria Workplace Relations team on (03) 9280 8722.
General Manager, Workplace Relations
On 31 July, members of AMA Victoria / ASMOF met to be updated on current disputes with Victorian health services. AMA Victoria intends to lodge a “compendium” dispute with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) that will cover:
- Clinical support time
- Continued medical education allowance
- Long service leave entitlements
- Progression to specialists classification
We already have disputes lodged with FWC regarding superannuation payments for specialists and training time for doctors in training.
At last night's meeting, two resolutions were passed unanimously:
- Support for the compendium dispute
- A call on AMA Victoria / ASMOF to explore a collective action that doctors can take to support the dispute.
Media reports have suggested that these disputes are a result of hospital funding issues, however AMA Victoria / ASMOF believe that our members have a right to receive their full legal entitlements. Any funding issues are for the health services and the government to resolve.
Over the last couple of months, AMA Victoria on behalf of our members, VHIA and the government have been in negotiations about how back pay should be applied under the new Enterprise Agreements. Particularly, has been discussion over whether a doctor is entitled to back pay if they left the public system between 1 January and 7 August 2018, which is when the agreement became operational. We are pleased to announce that following these negotiations, doctors who worked at a public health service during that period are entitled to the full 9% back pay.
The negotiating parties agreed the following principles, which have been sent to health services along with a comprehensive list of scenarios and examples:
- Doctors should not be disadvantaged by the long period that has elapsed between the signing of the heads of agreement and the coming into operation of the new enterprise agreements.
- Where a doctor was in the employment of and worked for (or undertook a period of paid leave) an eligible employer during or for any part of the period 1 January 2018 and 6 August 2018, the doctor will be paid arrears for the salary increases payable from the first pay period commencing on or after 1 January 2018, regardless of whether the doctor remained in the employment of such a public hospital or health service on 7 August 2018.
- Further to point 2, where during that period a Doctor in Training undertook a training rotation to a hospital or other relevant employer that is not named in the DiT agreement (a ‘non-eligible’ employer), that doctor should be paid arrears for the salary increases payable from the first pay period commencing on or after 1 January 2018, as if the doctor had been working at an eligible employer for that same period at the relevant classification/pay.
Scenarios medical specialists
Scenarios doctors in training
Unfortunately, the same principles will not apply to the sign on bonus, as the wording in the agreement specifically states that the bonus is payable to a doctor that “is subject to the agreement and was in the employ of a health service as at 1 January 2018”.
If you don't believe these principals have been adhered to by your health service, discuss this with your medical workforce department. If they do not resolve the matter to your satisfaction, please contact AMA Victoria’s Workplace Relations team on (03) 9280 8722.
AMA Victoria is pleased to announce that the Fair Work Commission has approved the new Enterprise Agreements for both Medical Specialists and Doctors in Training.
The new Agreements were certified on Tuesday 31 July 2018 and come into force 7 days later.
Both agreements can be viewed below:
Doctors in Training Agreement
Medical Specialists Agreement
AMA / ASMOF met with the government and VHIA on 19 July to discuss outstanding issues with the new Enterprise Agreements.
The issues were to do with typos in shift penalty schedules of the Specialists Agreement and the incorrect application of increases to shift penalties in the Doctors in Training Agreement. Neither will have an effect on the application of the agreements.
Both parties attended a conference at Fair Work on 23 July to answer the commission's questions regarding the agreements.
As both AMA / ASMOF and VHIA agreed on the response, we do not expect there will be any further delay in the approval process.
We anticipate that the agreements will be approved in the next week.
The agreements become enforceable 7 days after they have been approved.
Has the deal been approved?
Yes, on 14 February 2018, the government approved two agreements, one each for junior and senior medical staff. These agreements will go out to a ballot of hospital employed doctors in March.
Is there any chance of it falling through?
There is little chance of the agreement falling through at this stage. It could only happen if the majority of doctors that vote in a particular hospital vote against it. You need to vote YES to ensure that this does not happen.
When will the pay increases come into effect?
Hospitals are obliged to pay once the agreements are approved by the Fair Work Commission. If voting is successful, the agreements will be lodged after the ballot closes in late March. The benchmark for approval by the Fair Work Commission is 50% within 3 weeks, 100% within 12. AMA Victoria has requested that the department authorise payment sooner to minimise administrative delays.
How will the agreements come into effect?
Four actions will occur:
- Your salary will change in your fortnightly pay to reflect an increase of 9%
- The sign-on bonus will be paid
- Hospitals will calculate back pay from the first pay period in 2018 and make a lump sum payment
- Conditions matters, such as shortened length of shifts, will be implemented
Do sign on bonuses apply to part times doctors?
Yes. For Doctors in Training the bonus is payable based on $2000/38 x number of part time hours per week (43 hours for registrars). For Fractional specialists, the payment is $3500/35 x fractional allocation.
Is the “sign on bonus” payable each year?
No. It is a one-off payment. The government was steadfast in not agreeing to back pay. However, we were able to negotiate a ‘sign on bonus’ which we view as payment in lieu of back pay. It is not repeated.
Does the sign on bonus apply to people who first start with a hospital after 1 January?
No. Whilst the detail is still to be finalized, it is expected that the bonus will only be payable to medical staff employed by public hospitals as at 1 January 2018.
If I have already signed a contract for 2018, do I still get the sign on bonus and pay rise?
Yes to both.
If I rotate to anther hospital before payments are made, which hospital owes me the back pay?
If you rotate to another hospital, the Parent hospital or hospital that employed you directly on 1 January is obliged to pay. So keep in touch. Ensure you are an AMAV member to follow up.
Does Parental Leave apply from 1 January?
No, it will apply from the date the Agreement is registered.
When will we receive our salary increases and sign on bonus?
This will occur once the two agreements are finalised. There are still a number of steps to progress to finalise all the changes. However pay increases will be paid operative from the first pay period from 1 January 2018. So you will be back paid to this date.
What are the next steps to finalise all these changes?
We are aiming for the end of February for a vote and registration of both agreements. During this time we must finalise the two drafts with hospital representatives and the Department of Health and Human Services must submit the drafts for final Government approval. Once approved, a ballot of medical staff will be conducted as required by the Fair Work Act. If a majority of doctors (who vote) vote in favour, the agreements will be submitted to the Fair Work Commission for Approval. The agreements operate once approved.
Does the Agreement apply to medical staff in all public hospitals in Victoria?
The agreement applies to all public hospital employed medical staff (paid hourly or weekly) in Victoria. It does not apply to those who are independent contractors (i.e. small rural hospital VMOs) or doctors who are paid ‘fee for service’.
I am a specialist who already receives an afternoon shift allowance greater than 25%. Am I entitled to this new loading as well?
No, a number of changes to conditions for specialists (except for salary increases) will not be paid if the specialist is already in receipt of an equal or greater condition. This is in recognition that we are in the process of moving unregulated conditions into the specialist agreement to create state-wide conditions that are protected.
Is this “catching up” to other states?
One of our aims was interstate parity. Current agreements interstate have 2% - 2.5% PA wage increases and relatively few changes to employment conditions. This package better positions Victoria in terms of interstate salaries and conditions.