Taking control over our hours at work

15028_0395The “No Pay? No Way!” 2015 Report highlights again that workloads are continuing to increase along with the amount of unpaid
work being performed. It is concerning that as we face continued funding cuts to health care, the pressures to meet increasing service demands are actually growing.

One of the driving forces behind the Union’s research into unpaid work has been to consider the growth and reliance on unpaid work to keep vital clinical services within public healthcare operational.

Growth in levels of unpaid work is an accurate measure of growth in workload and workplace stress. Our surveying is a very valuable insight into your work health.

The Union believes that the increasing workloads and instances of unpaid work relate strongly to the regular cuts to workforces across all health services, combined with a ‘natural’ growth in service size, scope and patient numbers. And based on the 2015 Survey, respondents are continuing to report of excessive workloads and insufficient staff to handle workloads. More than 80% of respondents indicated that regularly perform unpaid work, with nearly 90% of respondents indicating there had been an increase in workloads in the previous 12 to 24 months.

The research conducted by the Union though its survey shows an alarming rise in workloads while staff numbers fail to keep pace with the growing demands. The Union’s research also points to a growing and much more alarming problem of the reliance on unpaid work keeping vital health services operation, especially services like mental health, pharmacy and pathology.
While this comes as little surprise in a sector with growing demand it does raise alarm bells about the extent of unpaid work and the reliance on it to meet growing workloads.

According to respondents the workload increases are due to a combination of factors.

Respondents cited that the biggest contributors to workload increases were increases in demand for services, increases in patient numbers and the expansion of services offered. It is also worth highlighting that staff not being replaced when there is an absence or vacancy is another very significant contributing factor for workload increases. The Union believes non replacement of staff is under-reported given a clear policy of deliberately refusing to resource replacement staff is now widely adopted across public health services.

Our survey reveals that are where staff are not replaced the work of absent employees is being loaded on to the rest of the workforce with an expectation that service delivery requirements are met. Just do more and more work!

It’s when you’re stressed and overworked that you’re most at risk of making an error.

Excessive workloads are not your fault. It is obvious excessive workloads are about management refusing to properly manage workloads by ensuring the availability of sufficient staff. Health service executives are now using staffing resources as a frontline strategy to manage health budgets, without regard to the impact it has on your work or your health.

These are among some of the big issues we have to take up as we head into negotiations for a new public sector agreement. At its core these issues speak to the growing concern that many vital services are now totally reliant on you doing unpaid work; and an unspoken workplace culture of doing unpaid work.

It is up to us fight back. It is up to us to take control of our hours at work. And the best way to fight back is to go home on time and refuse to do unpaid work.

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