U-Mail: Stronger Together - July 2011 Update

Posted July 11, 2011 by Alex Scott

Queensland Health: Proposal for Overpayments Recovery

Union delegates and officials have consistently put the position to the government that members should not have to repay money to QHealth if they could not get accurate data, or if they were in fact owed money by QHealth.

Union delegates and officials have consistently put the position to the government that members should not have to repay money to QHealth if they could not get accurate data, or if they were in fact owed money by QHealth.

In further meetings between union representatives and QHealth over the last week about the continuing saga of the QHealth recovery of overpayments to staff the Minister for Health, Geoff Wilson, intervened and a new offer about proposed resolution to some problems has been made. What has been proposed is that Unions and QHealth sign up to a "Heads of Agreement" document which would detail the following processes:

1. A moratorium on the collection of previously notified overpayments, to allow members to work through disputed claims and underpayments over a period of time without the need to worry about having to pay back money in the interim (unless, that is, workers choose to pay back the alleged overpayment);

2. A change of focus from overpayments to improving how underpayments are handled.

3. Increased resourcing for Line Managers to be able to interact with the pay system, which currently occurs at the expense of time spent on core duties (their actual roles)

4. The appointment of the Workplace Ombudsman to mediate between QHealth and staff to rectify ongoing pay problems

5. Complex case management to be performed at the payroll hub level, allowing better reconciliation of "unders and overs"

6. Trialing some changes to pay adjustment processing timeframes at a small number of agreed sites to see if the number of over- and under- payments resulting from roster adjustment each pay period can be reduced. This includes a proposal for a short-tem award variation to allow automatic adjustments, up to a capped amount, to rectify over- or underpayments in the next pay period.

7. Better recognition of skill levels for payroll staff, and the potential for a higher level of permanent staff in payroll hubs.

Your Union Council delegates from Queensland Health will meet via teleconference tomorrow to discuss the proposed Heads of Agreement, and meetings will also be held across payroll hubs as soon as possible to discuss the commitments QHealth have made to rectify ongoing disputed issues around work value and stability of employment.

QHealth has also re-opened the existing dispute in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) so that any agreement entered into can be monitored by the QIRC. A conference of all parties was held on Monday morning to update the Commission on the negotiations with a further conference to be held on Tuesday afternoon.

In the interim, as members have been advised previously:

If you are not absolutely sure you owe the money, make Queensland Health prove it.

What to do if you have received an overpayment letter:

  • If you have received an overpayment letter and you think the amount is incorrect, or you simply cannot be sure if it is correct or incorrect, tick the box on the form that says you disagree with the amount stated and return it as soon as possible. You will be contacted by a case manager who will be able to analyse all the available data and work with you to verify whether or not you have been overpaid. Be aware, though, that it may take some time for this to happen due to the large volume of overpayments that are being worked through. Queensland Health have also committed to ensuring that face-to-face advice and support is available to affected employees wherever possible.
  • If you have received an overpayment letter but you think you have actually been underpaid, contact the Payroll Hotline immediately to report your underpayment. No action in relation to overpayments will be taken until your underpayment is resolved.
  • If you have received an overpayment letter and agree that you have been overpaid the stated amount, complete the form and nominate the repayment arrangements you would like to put in place. A subsequent letter will be sent to you to confirm the repayment arrangement before any deductions are made.

Our union will continue to be closely involved in monitoring the overpayments recovery process to ensure that all affected employees are being treated fairly and sensitively, and that any assertions by Queensland Health about employees being overpaid are backed up by proper evidence.

Union name update

As of the date of amalgamation we were called AMACSU but the final status of our name is yet to be decided by the Industrial Commission and the Industrial Court.

This afternoon President Hall from the Industrial Court released his decision following on from the hearings held on 30 June and 4 July.

President Hall has accepted that the nearness of the names 'Unite Queensland' and 'United Voice' could be confusing and that more attention should have been paid to Alex Scott (QPSU Secretary's) submission. He has referred the matter back to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

We hope that the matter can be resolved speedily. More background on the name issue can be found here

Notice: Special General Meeting of members

In the Courier-Mail of 16 June, a notice was published in the Public Notices section informing of a Special General Meeting of union members to be held on Tuesday 12 July. Please be advised that this notice is out of date and there will be no Special General Meeting held on this day.

This meeting was called by QPSU members and the QPSU has since been deregistered as part of our amalgamation to build a stronger union.

In order to fulfill the wishes of these union members however the new combined Executive of our union have re-authorised this meeting to occur under the banner of our new union. So that there is time to advertise this new date and rearrange venues the date is later.

The date of the Special General Meeting has been changed to Tuesday 2 August 2011. Written confirmation of this date will be mailed to union members and a new notice will be published in the Courier-Mail, in accordance with union rules.

Thanks for your feedback on machinery of government

Several weeks ago, following the state budget, I asked you to let me know your thoughts about Machinery of Government (MoG) changes in Queensland and whether you thought they could be done better.

We have had a strong response, and a variety of feedback and suggestions from different areas of the public sector, reflecting the different experiences people have had of MoG changes.

The diversity of opinions and views have shown me that this is clearly a topic where members are interested in ways we can get the government to adopt a more consultative attitude when it comes to these changes.

I wanted to thank all those who have contributed their thoughts. This is a topic of keen interest and I am planning ways to continue the conversation. If you have other thoughts or would like to contribute you can still email me at alex@qpsu.org

Thanks for your thoughts on improving the way government changes are structure in Queensland - I know with your support we can build a better model for change that supports Queenslanders, services, and workers.


Authorised Alex Scott, Secretary, Together.
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