As you would be aware the Rockliff Government has negotiated a new Agreement to replace the existing Tasmanian Health Service COVID-19 Escalation Allowance Agreement. The new Agreement will pay eligible Health employees a one-off amount of $2,000 but that amount will include any entitlement employees have under the existing Escalation Agreement.
Concluding this Agreement has been a convoluted process and therefore the outcome is far from ideal. Initially the $2,000 payment was only to be made to nurses, but the scope was widened as pressure was applied from other groups. The stated purpose of the Agreement is ‘to acknowledge the additional pressure on Department of Health front line employees and the sustained, ongoing effort during the COVID response’. Great – but it wasn’t just frontline Health employees who made a ‘sustained, ongoing effort during the COVID response’.
The CPSU has always held the view that all public sector workers should have been recognised and rewarded for their efforts, but the government didn’t agree, and we won’t deny a group of workers a deserved payment just because the government won’t do the right thing.
Who is included?
Employees within the scope of the Health and Human Services (Tasmanian State Service) Award, Nurses and Midwives (Tasmanian State Service) Award, Ambulance Tasmania Award, and Medical Practitioners (Public Sector) Award as at 31 July 2022, who have undertaken hours in a Tasmanian Health Service facility or Tasmanian Health Service hospital during the period 15 December 2021 and 31 July 2022, providing direct or indirect care or support for patients.
We understand this to include all health worksites other than those that have no clinical services (such as 25 Argyle Street and the Anne O’Byrne Centre) however employees based in such sites who have physically performed duties in clinical sites over the relevant period would be included.
It’s unfortunate the definition isn’t clearer because it leaves the Agreement open to disputation. The CPSU will support members who believe they meet the definition but do not receive the allowance initially.
Who will be paid?
The allowance is $2,000 which would include any entitlement an employee has to an escalation allowance. Escalation allowances were payable under the Tasmanian Health Service COVID-19 Escalation Allowance Agreement and were based on a per shift amount for shifts worked when health facilities had reached escalation level 3 and 4 – but at level 3 allowances weren’t paid until 30 days after the escalation occurred. The rate of allowance depended on the risk level of the facility.
These allowances have never been paid. We understand some workers are owed up to $1,800 in escalation allowances and many are owed $600 – so the new allowance is really only the difference between the two allowances for these workers. The government has also now withdrawn from the Escalation Allowance Agreement so if there are escalations in the future, there will be no per shift payments.
The $2,000 allowance may be paid to eligible workers over a number of instalments between registration and the end of the year to reduce tax implications.
We want your feedback.
The government has made it clear the offer is take it or leave it, so we can’t negotiate any further changes. Despite this the CPSU would like your feedback before supporting the Agreement being registered. Let us know your thoughts at email@example.com.