As you know, HSU members have raised workload and staffing issues multiple times and there has been a growing concern about the safety of staff and residents at Estia Health Kogarah.
Since March 2020, when the HSU formally raised WHS issues on behalf of members, your HSU representatives and members alike have lobbied strongly for improvements to keep everyone safe at your workplace. A meeting between HSU officials, local management and HR on 12 August was organised, at which management suggested they had a plan to follow the issue resolution process as described in the Estia Health NSW Enterprise Agreement 2019 (EA).
However, members have confirmed that little change has been made. Between August and November, members have made it clear they have felt very unsafe. Issues such as lack of communication, understaffing and unmanageable workload, lack of PPE, psychological impact of the lack of respect for staff, and an unsafe environment for residents, have all been raised.
In November, the HSU ran a simple survey which was specifically designed to examine how staff feel about their workload and workplace safety. The survey was directed to all staff regardless of HSU membership. As a result, thirty-one staff voluntarily participated in this anonymous survey.
The results of the survey are briefly summarised in the document at this link.
Of 31 participants, 58% responded that the current staffing level at the worksite is “inadequate”, while the remainder of the participants responded it is “unsafe”, with none of the participants finding the current staffing level safe. All participants responded that “the needs of residents are neglected due to insufficient staffing” and “shifts are left unfilled on a regular basis”. Nearly half (48.38%) of the participants responded that they missed a scheduled break “due to excessive workload”.
Twenty-nine of thirty-one participants responded that they do not think “workload management” is an agenda item at the staff meeting. Despite this, members confirmed in question 6 that these issues had been raised internally as part of their attempt to resolve them at the workplace level, with 96.77% of respondents answering that workload issues had been raised at the facility.
Another notable finding of the survey is that the majority (83.87%) of respondents have experienced “physical or mental injury” caused by “excessive workload”.
Five participants made additional comments, which appear below:
“Never enough staff, putting residents and staff at risk”
“We not feeling happy while we are at work too much workload short of staff.”
“Management don't care about our workload, they expect us to work short staffed all of the time.”
“Management is ignoring staff voice.”
“Floater AIN is badly needed between 7-10. During these times staff are all busy doing the morning carers and serving, there’s no one left on the floor to attend to the other residents or check on them”
As some of you may be aware, your EA has a clause that deals with excessive workload. According to Clause 65, “[t]o ensure that Employee concerns involving excessive workloads are effectively dealt with by management”, the issue should be discussed with the immediate supervisor, then the Executive Director if a solution is not found, and then lastly referred to the Operations Executive if the issue is still not resolved. Members have done very well in following the procedure.
Clause 65.3 also states that “[t]he outcome of the discussions at each level and any proposed solutions should be recorded in writing and fed back to the affected Employees”.
The HSU has sent the results of the survey to management and requested a formal response to the following questions about previous internal discussions on workload by 10 December 2020.
Was the outcome of the discussion recorded, and fed back to all staff?
If so, how was the outcome fed back to staff?
The outcome of each meeting, as well as changes that may have been made or are planned to be made as a result of each meeting.
Estia Health Kogarah has the primary duty under WHS Act Section 19 to do what is reasonably practical to ensure healthy and safe work for employees. The HSU has made it clear that if these issues are not resolved, the matter will be taken further.
Please keep us informed of any changes or issues that arise. Your safety is our utmost concern. If you have concerns at your workplace, contact your HSU Organiser Hyojung Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0458 012 322.
If you have a workmate who feels unsafe at work or suffers from unmanageable workload, tell them to join the Union. New members can join at www.hsu.asn.au/join or call 1300 478 679. We are stronger together.
Thank you for working as a frontline essential health worker.