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Nurses and Midwives Win Battle for Entitlements

May 2, 2024

Nurses and midwives at Hawkesbury Hospital can breathe a sigh of relief as they will retain all their leave entitlements following the transfer of their employment to Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD) on July 1.

Following a rally outside the hospital last month and extensive negotiations between the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) and the NSW government, an agreement has been reached allowing staff the option to transfer their accrued annual and long service leave entitlements to their new employer, NSW Health.

Hawkesbury District Health Service, currently operated by St John of God Health Care, will revert to public management after eight years.

NSWNMA Hawkesbury District Health Service Branch Delegate, Ann Jackson thanked the community’s for their support during negotiations. 

“So many healthcare workers and their families came together to support our own-time rally last week, and it really demonstrated what a fantastic community we have in the Hawkesbury,” Jackson said.

“Time off with our families is priceless. We are so pleased the government has now recognised this and has found a solution that allows us to keep our well-earned leave entitlements,” she said.

Nurses and midwives have won their battle for entitlements.

NSWNMA Hawkesbury District Health Service Branch Secretary Ben Wright, said the news was a  great relief as many of his colleagues incredibly distressed by the thought of losing control of their leave entitlements.

“It’s a complete turnaround. In early March, we were facing a forced leave payout, a loss of accrued sick leave entitlements and a drop in take-home pay due to changes in salary packaging arrangements. We’ve now been assured that all our sick leave will be transferred, our current salary packaging arrangements will continue for another two years, and members will have the choice to transfer their long service and annual leave entitlements,” Wright said.

“We are grateful for the support of the Hawkesbury community. It’s good to know that the Hawkesbury cares for us, as much as we care for the Hawkesbury. This community’s overwhelming support lifted our spirits when we despaired over the possibility of having our leave taken out of our hands,” he said.

Federal Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, applauded the outcome, stressing the importance of preserving staff entitlements as the hospital transitions to the public sector.

Templeman also raised concerns about a legislative loophole in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), which does not address staff transfers from private to public sectors. Currently, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) is silent on staff transfers from a private employer to the public sector yet expressly provides for transfers from public to private.

“I have written to my colleague the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, the Hon Tony Burke MP, to request that the Fair Work Act be amended to correct this anomaly and protect workers entitlements where they are transferring from the national system employer to a State public sector employer.

“I will continue to work to ensure that this loophole in the legislation is closed and the act operates fairly for all Australian workers,” she said.

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