Over the past decades staff reductions forced through budget cuts has caused workloads to steadily increase. Health managers have long stopped thinking about how we cope with extra work.
We are just expected to do more and more work in the same amount of time. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of hours of unpaid time will be worked to cope with unreasonably high workloads. There is growing evidence of a systemic reliance on unpaid work to keep many services afloat.
And this will only increase with cuts to health spending announced in the Federal budget.
As workloads continue to grow without increases in staff, the pressure is mounting on already over-worked and stressed staff.
The Union wants to use the campaign to:
- Reduce unsustainably high workloads
- Enforce Workload Clauses in our Agreements
- Have fewer members doing unpaid work
- Eliminate injuries arising from high workloads; and
- Engage more members in the work of the Union
How much unpaid work is done?
We know that members are working longer hours without being properly compensated.
From our work on the Public Sector agreement in 2011-2012, we know that 2503 members were regularly performing unpaid work. We also know that members were working on average an additional 4 hours unpaid each week.
We estimated that members were doing approximately $19 million ($18.95mil) in unpaid work each year.
And since 2011-12, we know that this has only become worse with many employers unwilling to back-fill maternity and long service leave positions; and the slow speed at which vacancies are filled.
Why is this campaign so important?
We know that members feel the pressure. They don’t want to let their patients down and want to be ‘good professionals’. This campaign is not about an unexpectedly busy day, or staying back because something out of the ordinary has happened. It is about regular unpaid work being relied upon for the day to day functioning of your service or department and the growing expectation by management that this will continue. In other words, that unpaid work has become a structural component of delivering health care services.
But the reality is that by regularly doing unpaid work members are at risk of suffering injuries like depression, anxiety and even heart attacks.
- 90% of us do some unpaid work each week
- On average, we each work 4 hours per week for free
- Management resist backfilling leave absences
- It has gotten harder and harder to get leave requests approved
The reliance on unpaid work is the single biggest factor behind the current rationale of cutting wages and jobs. It supports the employers’ approach of getting more done for less. The biggest statement we can make in showing that current workloads are too high is to stop doing unpaid work.
What does it all mean to me?
High workloads and regularly doing unpaid work results in fatigue and stress putting you at risk of suffering serious injuries including depression, anxiety and even heart disease. Suffering a mental health injury, because it is invisible, can often be ignored by employers. This also cannot be underestimated as an OH&S problem.
Fatigue and high workloads are significantly increasing management actions for alleged “poor performance”.
What are the most important things I can do?
Saying “NO!” to unpaid work is a very powerful first step towards resolving these important issues. You cannot be forced to perform unpaid work and your refusal is a lawful action for which you cannot be disciplined or punished. At the very least, make sure that if you do work additional hours demand overtime payment.
The second step is to act collectively as union members.
We can’t afford to let this continue! It’s time for more staff.
Take Action Today
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