Take It or Leave It: New Paramedics Being Asked to Give Up Right to Full Time Employment

  • Published December 14, 2020

ADHSU received a letter on December 8 giving us seven days to respond to a proposal to bring in new paramedics on a take it or leave it permanent part time arrangement with no right to a full-time contract.

Seven days to respond to what is a major restructure in the way Ambulance employment operates is provocative.

Firstly, we are not talking about full time employees seeking to go part time for an agreed period of time (part time work agreements). These agreements are regulated by the IR act and provide flexibility to workers who have caring responsibilities, are transitioning to retirement and the like. The temporary nature of these agreements means the worker has the option to revert back to full time whenever their circumstances change.

Bringing in new starters on a part time only contract is entirely different. Like nearly every other job in the economy, Ambulance work is full time work. And full-time work in Australia is mostly defined as 38 or 35 hours a week. 

NSWA is again slipping further behind in response times meaning there is more work than paramedics and control centre officers. There is absolutely no excuse to cut jobs into parts and will lead to paramedic working poor.

If it goes through, paramedics will be employed with a guarantee of hours, for example 12 hours meaning on average one shift a week. They will then be called in to fill holes in rosters around the place as if they were casual employees. This is no way to live and can lead to poor outcomes for workplaces.

NSW paramedics and control centre officers currently have the lowest base pay in the country. Expecting them live on an even lower take home pay can lead to poor decision making. We do not need paramedics taking on additional employment because they do not have secure income from the ambulance service.

We have made it clear that not only do we expect full consultation on such a change and that it cannot be rammed through. We have also made it clear that ADHSU members have already shown they will fight for the rights of those yet to be employed. And the fight for the right of full-time employment will be one of them.

In unity,

Gerard Hayes

Secretary, HSU NSW/ACT/QLD