Know your rights: workplace change and consultation

20-Dec-2019

When major workplace change happens (e.g. roster changes, cuts to hours, restructures and redundancies), you have legal rights you need to be aware of.

The Doctors’ Union, ASMOF, is here to help you understand and exercise those rights.

In this article we provide some guidance on what you need to know about consultation.

Where does the obligation to consult come from?

The obligation to consult with employees comes from your industrial Award, enterprise agreements and legislation (including the Work Health & Safety Act). NSW Health is also required to consult with the Health Unions including ASMOF on a range of workplace issues as set out in the “Industrial Consultative Arrangements” Policy Directive. The Health Unions meet with every Local Health District on a quarterly basis where the union is consulted about LHD wide issues such as organisational change, proposed changes to service delivery and redevelopment issues.

What changes in the workplace require consultation with employees and the Union?

Major or significant changes require consultation. Such changes could include:

  • termination of employment;
  • major changes in the composition, operation or size of the employer’s workforce or in the skills required;
  • changes in employment and/or promotional opportunities or job tenure for a class or group of employees;
  • the alteration of hours of work for a class or group of employees; or
  • the need for training or transfer of a class or group of employees to other work or location, and the restructuring of jobs.

What are your rights?  

  • You and your Union have the right to be consulted about the change.
  • You and your Union have the right to receive all relevant information about the changes (excluding certain confidential information).
  • Consultation includes time to consider the change, to raise concerns, and to have those concerns properly considered.
  • You have the right to provide feedback to proposed changes through your Union or individually.
  • You have the right to disagree with the proposal and to suggest alternative ways the employer could manage proposed changes in the workplace and to mitigate impacts on the employees.
  • Importantly, you have the right to Union representation. The employer is required to consult with the Union.

Can a consultation process be challenged?

Yes. The Union can lodge a dispute in the New South Wales Industrial Commission (or Fair Work Commission if relevant) on behalf of our members when we are not satisfied with the way consultation is being handled or if the employer is not properly considering our feedback.

ASMOF has successfully utilised the commission process to challenge workplace change proposals such as redundancies, mergers between departments, changes to job roles and even changes to reporting lines.

 

What are the consequence if the employer does not properly consult?

A failure to comply with consultation obligations of the Award or Enterprise Agreement will result in the employer breaching the industrial instrument. This is a serious matter and the Union can commence proceedings for contravention of the Award or Enterprise Agreement. Compensation can be awarded and other civil penalties can be imposed for breaching the provisions.

Please note, specific provisions apply in respect to consultation around roster changes.

If change is occurring at your work, make sure you contact the Doctors’ Union for advice by emailing allocation@asmof.org.au.

 

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