“No Pay? No Way!” 2015 Report
While there is much in the report that won’t surprise members, there is growing confirmation about our concerns regarding unpaid work, workloads increasing and expectations that members do more with fewer staff and resources.
Unpaid work is a very accurate measure of workload and work stress in any workplace. It is not, however the only measure.
The results show that workloads are continuing to increase adding to the already excessive workloads reported in the 2014 survey results. In the 2015 survey, the results indicate that nearly 80% of respondents are doing more than an hour extra unpaid work per fortnight, with over 50% of respondents doing two or more hours of unpaid work. This result becomes more startling when consideration is given to the fact that over 30% of respondents are doing unpaid work on a daily basis, with more than 40% of respondents doing unpaid work on a weekly basis.
It is alarming that our surveys indicate that for many health services the workplace culture is such that new staff feel pressured into doing unpaid work on their own initiative, rather than because they’ve been asked by their supervisor or management team. When asked about the reasons for doing unpaid work on their own initiative, more than 85% of respondents suggested being unable to complete tasks within ordinary hours; 71% indicated it was because of the department being understaffed; and 64% are doing unpaid work for patient care reasons. These figures are strongly suggestive of a growing culture which is ‘normalising’ unpaid work.
The findings from the survey also indicate that when people are doing unpaid work at the request of a supervisor or their management team, it is because the department is understaffed. And for more than 72% of respondents, requests to do unpaid work were agreed to because it was the only way to get all of their work completed. It is also worth noting that that when asked if there were sufficient staff to cover the workload when staff take annual leave or sick leave, 86% of respondents indicated there were not enough staff to cover such instances of leave; and more than 50% of respondents indicating they had been refused leave because of understaffing.
However the results from the 2015 Survey do show a stark reality for members – that workloads are continuing to significantly increase, staff levels are not meeting increases in demand and the amount of unpaid work is continuing to increase. More unpaid work is being performed than in 2011-12 and 2014.
One of the issues highlighted from the 2015 Survey is the rise of management’s use of on-call and re-call to cover understaffing. This particular issue had not been highlighted in the 2014 or 2011 surveys and appears to have become a source of tension for respondents more recently in the past 12 months. This kind of approach to managing clinical services in public health appears to stem from the unwillingness of managers to ensure the appropriate mix of staff required; under-resourced and understaffed services resulting in there often not enough staff rostered to do the work; and continued successive cuts to healthcare by State and Federal governments.
This report provides an outline of the extent and impact of unpaid work and continues the research into this growing problem in the public healthcare system – unpaid work is structurally relied upon to keep vital services in public hospitals functioning.