EB11: Improved offer plus super and pandemic leave wins

Published: 29 June 2022
 
 
Thanks to the actions of QNMU members over the past few weeks, the state government and Queensland Health (QH) have again improved their offer to settle your EB11 agreement.

Included in their offer are increased wages and conditions, including penalty rates. We’ve also secured increases to superannuation, and improved access to pandemic leave.

You can view the full details of the improved conditions in the offer here.

Improved wage offer and cost of living payments


The wages offer is up from 2.5% per year to 4% for the first year of the agreement, 4% for the second year and 3% for the third year. However, these amounts will be topped up to the cost of living if inflation is higher than the wage increase at the end of each year. 
 
How this cost of living payment would work

This cost of living top up payment would be a lump sum equal to the difference between the inflation rate and the base wage increase for that year, up to a maximum of 3%. The inflation rate would be measured in the 12 months to the end of March for the Brisbane region.  

For example, if the inflation rate is 7% at the end of March next year, you would receive your 4% increase to your base wages, as well as the equivalent of 3% of your base wage as a lump sum payment. This would not form part of your ongoing wage rate.

This would ensure your wages keep up with inflation.

Note: these top up payments will be paid at the end of March each year for the life of the agreement (up until March 2025).

The table below shows the increases nurses and midwives would receive at a range of classifications on the new wages offer, as well as if inflation were to reach 7% at the end of March 2023:


 
Please note that based on the current offer, the increases to your base wages would be paid on wages and allowances from 1 April each year, with the increase for this year back paid to 1 April 2022. 
 
This is a significant improvement from the government’s initial 2.5% offer, which positions us well beyond the offers being presented to our NSW nursing and midwifery colleagues. After multiple rounds of strike action, nurses and midwives in NSW have been offered 3%.

What else have we won?


You can view the full details of the improved conditions in the offer here.

Here are some highlights of the significant improvements that have been agreed:
  • Annual leave no longer deducted on public holidays for all nurses and midwives.
  • Sunday penalty rates increased from 175% to 200% (double time). This will be an increase of wages of $99.94 for each eight hour shift worked on a Sunday for a nurse or midwife classified at NG5.7 and $108.84 for those at level NG6.1.4.
  • Fatigue leave after remote call.
  • The right for part-time employees to have their contracted hours reviewed.
  • A recruitment and retention allowance of $208.90 per fortnight to Nurse Practitioners classified at NG8 and above.

Closing the Gap initiatives:

The QH offer includes some initiatives in support of closing the gap in health outcomes for First Nations people, but not all that we are seeking. We will continue to lobby QH to secure further improvements in this area over the coming weeks.

 

Other wins outside the EB offer


In addition to what is being offered as part of the in-priniciple agreement, we are pleased to report we have also secured other significant improvements for nurses and midwives outside of the agreement as a direct result of member action and persistent QNMU lobbying of government over a number of years.

Pandemic Leave:

QH has offered nurses and midwives who are diagnosed as COVID-19 positive access to up to 20 days paid Pandemic Leave before using your sick/personal leave.  

This arrangement will be backdated to 14 December 2021 (the date Queensland opened its borders) and any personal leave used for illness with COVID-19 will be recredited to your personal leave balance.

Superannuation:

The government has also committed to improving superannuation for Queensland public sector employees in a couple of ways. Importantly, this includes changing the way they pay employer contributions.

Under the new proposal, the process of calculating your superannuation contributions will be streamlined, making it very clear that your super is calculated on your Ordinary Time Earnings (including your shift and weekend penalties). For the purposes of superannuation, the definition of Ordinary Time Earnings will no longer be linked to the long-standing government co-contribution arrangements. Linking the two issues has resulted in shift workers being disadvantaged.

This is a big difference for nurses and midwives - the QNMU has been agitating for this change for many years.

The government has also committed to paying 12.75% superannuation contributions on earnings, which include shift and weekend penalties. This won’t be contingent on employees contributing 5% of their earnings as it is now, so members can continue to contribute 5% to their superannuation or put this back in their pockets if they choose.  

This is a huge win and will make a significant difference to the retirement savings of nurses and midwives. 

Members should seek financial advice about how these changes will impact their personal circumstances. We are currently seeking information from the Queensland Government about when these changes will take effect and will update members once we have confirmed time frames. 

 

Some items no longer in the offer


Unfortunately, QH has removed some of the items that had previously been “agreed in principle” when making the current offer. Two of those were projects on gender equity within QH and scope of practice, and one was the indexation of the after-hours nurse manager allowance.  The QNMU is still negotiating with QH to try to get these projects back in the agreement. 

Workloads:

QH has also withdrawn their in-principle agreement for Team Leaders to not have a patient load – on the grounds it was too expensive. QH withdrew their support after they undertook detailed costings. 

This is very disappointing but the QNMU remains committed to campaigning for safe workloads, patient and staff safety and effective workforce planning, and this is something we can do outside of bargaining as it is not a wage related issue. 

Please note, the situation with TLs and the patient load has not changed in this agreement. The QNMU sought to standardise in the agreement that TLs should never have a patient load but QH did not agree to change the current arrangements in place under the ratios legislation. Therefore, the situation remains that if a unit had a TL with a patient load before ratios implementation, then this continues. Alternatively, if the TL did not have a patient load before ratios implementation, then this continues.
 
However, the government has a significant responsibility in making the health care system in Queensland safe for patients and staff,  so you can expect a strong campaign on this matter beyond EB11, in the same way we campaigned to secure ratios across Queensland Health.

 

Branch meetings


QNMU Council has endorsed this “in principle” offer to go to all QNMU members for your consideration. We are currently planning branch meetings where QNMU officials will talk through the offer in more detail and you will have an opportunity to discuss next steps for your EB11 agreement.

These meetings can be attended in paid time.   

Keep an eye on your emails for an invitation to your local branch meeting soon.

We should be incredibly proud of our collective efforts to get to this point. This is the power of a union at work and together we are making a real difference.

Visit www.qnmu.org.au/EB11 to stay up to date on everything EB11.