NEWSLETTER SUPPLEMENT TO THE AEU NEWS • JULY 2013
Staff-only facilities an OHS issue Jen Walsh explains why employees’ workplace amenities should be a matter of good planning, not good luck.
ORKPLACE amenities and facilities are provided for the health, safety, welfare and personal hygiene needs of employees. They include toilets, shelter, seating, dining rooms, change rooms, drinking water, personal storage and washing facilities. They also include the work environment, covering workspace, temperature, air quality, lighting and flooring. Sadly, this aspect of occupational health and safety (OH&S) in disability workplaces is often a matter of good luck rather than good planning. To further protect their OHS interests, all workgroups should have a duly elected health & safety representative (HSR) to represent their workgroup, to enable OHS consultation and communication, and to access the powers and protections of the OHS Act. The HSR cannot be the same person as the OHS nominee or management person. The WorkSafe Victoria compliance code for Workplace Amenities and the Work Environment specifies basic requirements for employees’ comfort, welfare, and health and safety. The AEU encourages and supports employees to ensure that amenities and facilities are not only adequate, but representative of best practice in a modern workplace. This article focuses on two of the above provisions: dining facilities and toilets. In relation to dining facilities, the workplace must provide “access to hygienic facilities for preparing and eating of meals while at work”. It also requires workplaces to provide a separate area and a place away from the work process for rest breaks and the consumption of food. This poses special relevance to our disability settings, where the nature of the work means that food preparation and eating times are often shared with clients. All employees need to have “access to clean and hygienic toilet facilities at all times”. Staff-only toilets need to be provided for basic health, welfare, privacy and dignity. We know from discussions with members that even when on site, staff are often expected to share both toilet and lunch facilities with clients.
The management philosophy underpinning the sharing of amenities and facilities is that this promotes an “inclusive” environment for clients, as well as an expectation that equal standards of hygiene will and do apply. While it is expected that staff and client toilet and meal preparation areas be maintained to equally high standards, it is highly desirable and not unreasonable to provide a separate and lockable toilet for staff-only use. Recent WorkSafe inspector activity in a disability centre has confirmed that this as a reasonable and achievable practice. Many centres do provide separate staff toilets as a matter of staff welfare and respect. Similarly, while staff supervise client meal times and frequently share meals, it cannot be assumed that sharing dining facilities meets the WorkSafe compliance code. This is a matter for discussion and
consultation locally, between management and staff, as per the OHS Act. The OHS Act clearly specifies the OHS management responsibilities of all employers, including the need to be proactive, preventative and consultative. If any of these matters are an issue in your centre, please contact the AEU on (03) 9417 2822 for further information and assistance. � Jen Walsh is AEU deputy vice president for TAFE and adult provision
Working out your minimum pay
Many of our day service members became eligible for pay rises this month after a long wait. David Bunn industrial officer
or AEU members working as job support workers, the Fair Work Ombudsman has now calculated your minimum rates of pay to apply from the first pay period on or after July 1, 2013. These rates include the 2.6% annual wage review starting from that date. You can find those rates on the Ombudsman’s site (www.fairwork.gov.au) through their Award finder tool. However, it is simpler to go to the AEU website, where we have extracted those rates and made them available for members. Most members in these sectors are covered by their awards, not agreements. It is worth noting that on July 1, the casual loading in both of these awards rose to 24% of the base rate. For members in disability day services the story is much more complicated unfortunately. We have sent pay sheets calculated by the AEU to every CEO in continued on page 2 � Victoria and invited them to discuss these rates with us.
A EU h e a d o f f ic e 112 Trenerr y C rescent, Abbotsford 3067 Te l : 03 9417 2822 Fa x : 1300 658 078 We b : w w w.aeu v i c. as n . au
Disability experts to speak at conference Life-long and life-wide education is the theme for the upcoming AEU conference for TAP members.
he AEU Victorian Branch is holding James O’Brien is the State an AEU TAFE and Adult Provision Manager, National Disability Services TAFE, DISABILITY & AMES (TAP) Conference for our members Victoria. James has recently worked Conference working in the TAFE, Disability Services on the National Disability Insurance and AMES sectors. The theme of the Scheme (NDIS) and has experience Thursday August 29, 2013 conference is “Public adult education: in public policy and government life-long and life-wide”. relations. He worked as a senior We have not held a conference political advisor to the former Bracks for TAP teachers since our 2009 Government. conference, so we anticipate a good We would be delighted to see response from our membership. a good representation of our TAP The conference will be held at the members from both metro and Victoria University Conference Centre regional disability sites at the August on Thursday August 29, 9am–3.30pm. conference — free to AEU members. Kurt Fearnley is our keynote The AEU will provide financial assisspeaker. Kurt is a world champion tance of up to $180 in backfill costs wheelchair athlete, whose infectious for the first 20 members to RSVP. Public Adult Education: LifeLoNG & LifeWiDe energy and passion for life inspires The AEU has just commenced KEYNOTE SPEAKER: KURTanFEARNLEY and motivates audiences across age University of Melbourne, Honorary Fellow within advertising this event and we are Kurt Fearnley is a world champion wheelchair athlete with a can do attitude that makes the impossible possible. His infectious energy and passion for life motivates audiences groups and industries. the Department of Psychology at inspires DeakinandUniversity already attracting a lot of interest. The venue across age groups and communities. We will also have sector-specific presentations andmedal a Research can accommodate over 150 people, so please • Three-time Gold Paralympian Associate within the Department • Six-time World Champion for our TAFE, Disability and AMES members, and of Psychology at the University of Waikato in get in early — visit www.aeuvic.asn.au/TAP_ • Commonwealth Athlete of the Year with a Disability • 2009 NSW Young Australian of the Year workshops that will address a range of professional New Zealand. conference to register and find out more. � VENUE VICTORIA UNIVERSITY CONFERENCE CENTRE issues for the workforce. Level 12, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne (opposite Flinders Street station)
Disability services sector panel CLOSING DATE Three experts from the disability sector will be speaking at the TAP conference. Brent Hayward is a Disability Practice Advisor for the Senior Practitioner in the Office of Professional Practice, Department of Human Services. He has a particular interest in supporting people with severe and profound disabilities, the health needs of people with intellectual disabilities and the assessment and treatment of dual disability. Dr Frank Lambrick is currently the acting Senior Practitioner for Disability Services in Victoria. He is a lecturer in Criminology (Forensic Disability) at the
Conference is free for AEU members – fully catered
Registration isout essential – Please email firstname.lastname@example.org Working your minimum pay AUGUST 21 � continued from page 1
Many have and we hope that the information is reaching you, along with the appropriate wage rises. We believe that many workers in day services became eligible for pay rises this month. For many, this will be the first time their minimum wage rates have risen above those in expired agreements. We are still working on getting the information onto the website in a usable form for members. If it’s any consolation, we can tell you that the Fair Work Ombudsman is still puzzling over this task too. In the meantime, we have trained over 100 instructors and their managers in how to work out minimum salaries in this area and will continue with that task in the months ahead. Many union staff have also been trained to assist you. For those few employees on the award in this sector, the casual loading rose to 24% on July 1. �
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Disability Services newsletter | july 2013
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