Update on Payroll Dispute Negotiations - Please distribute to all members

Posted August 22, 2011 by Alex Scott

Members will recall that in the last month, there have been hearings in the QIRC (Queensland Industrial Relations Commission) in an effort to progress the offer made by Queensland Health to settle the most immediate issues for payroll staff, being around classifications and stability of the workforce.

An initial offer was received from Queensland Health after the intervention of the Minister.  You may recall that we had a series of meetings at each payroll site to discuss the offer and take feedback back to management.  We also had several phone hook-ups with your Delegates to confirm priorities for members to be resolved in these negotiations.  These priorities centred on progression opportunities and concern over workload due to the high number of temporary staff required to keep things going.  Since that time, we have been seeking to finalise the detail and take account of further issues which we raised on your behalf with management.  These further discussions have unfortunately proved difficult, and it is the view of your negotiators that some escalation may be necessary to drive home to management the issues important to payroll staff.

The Offer on the Table:

Advanced Payroll Officer:

Arising out of the restructuring of payroll hubs which occurred after the disastrous roll-out of the new system, a range of reports were commissioned and received, including one from KPMG which recommended the creation of the Advanced Payroll Officer position.  Since that time, your representatives have been working to produce a Position Description which was agreed for the position.  As you will no doubt recall, QH has approached the issue with an intention to limit the number of APOs generally, starting with an offer to create only 30 positions.

Members rejected the limitation of this opportunity and demanded that we pursue the maximum number of positions attainable.  To this end, we have insisted that the APO position be one which is based on the level of skill being applied by the individual, and therefore that there be an opportunity for individuals to make application for an assessment against criteria derived from the Position Description.

So far:  QHealth have offered progression based on assessment against the criteria for Level 3 applicants, who can demonstrate 4 years in payroll.  There are approximately 177 payroll staff who are at Level A03.4  who would be eligible to apply against this criteria immediately.  The parties are still in negotiation around an ongoing process for progression.  Your union representatives have demanded an ongoing scheme where members can apply for regrading as they fit the application criteria.  So far, QH is resisting this claim but have agreed to further discussions.  In terms of the criteria to be met - these would be derived directly from the Position Description and overseen by the QIRC.

Level 3 Vacancies:

Should we be successful in confirming the above progression arrangement, every Level 3 position which is vacated due to the advancement of the incumbent to Level AO4, would be filled by closed merit by and exisiting AO2.  QH have agreed to an expedited process to achieve this, but this is still not finalised.  We have insisted that any vacancy of a Level AO3 position would in future be filled in accordance with the usual processes, which means that management could not simply fail to fill the position. 

Level 2 Payroll Staff:

The current offer is that Level AO2 staff who are unsuccessful in gaining a Level AO3 position, will receive advancement of 2 increments.  This may mean that a current Level 2.8 would advance to Level 3.2.  However, no further increments would be available unless the incumbent won an actual position through merit at Level A03.  The offer also is that any Level 2.8 who through this initial process won a Level AO3 position, would start straight on AO3.2 and be able to progress to the top of Level 3.  Currently, there are around 180 permanent Level 2s, and 165 temporary Level 2s.

Temporary Staff:

Serious concerns were raised regarding the high level of temporary staff and we were successful in winning a commitment from the Minister that he would have the Director General use his discretion to waive the requirement for a temporary staff member to serve 2 years before being able to apply for permanency, to only 12 months.  The vast majority of temporary staff in payroll have been employed for over 12 months and this would result in the conversion of over one hundred individuals to permanent status.  These would be personal tenured positions, and would not affect the establishment level.  Without an agreement around this issue, temporary staff have no guarantees of ongoing employment beyond their current contract, and that means a potential spike in workload for permanent staff if this issue remains unresolved.

So what's the sticking point?

Our claim will result in a significant financial commitment from QH and management are now having difficulties with agreeing to an unlimited number of opportunities for advancement for payroll staff to AO4, which of course links back to a large amount of backfilling of positions at levels below AO4.  Quite simply, management seem to be getting cold feet.

What can we do to finalise this?

Assistant General Secretary Julie Bignell will meet with senior management on Monday 22 August in a final attempt to clarify management's offer, so that it could be taken back to members for endorsement.  We propose to report back to Delegates via teleconference as soon as possible after this meeting to discuss whether the offer is sufficient, or whether other action may be necessary, such as referring this to negotiations for EB8.  Should this occur, it is open to members to take protected industrial action in furtherance of our claim, after the expiry of EB7 at the end of this month.  Unless Payroll Staff stick together though, we will not be able to secure an outcome because we will need to lodge a specific claim for Payroll as part of these negotiations for EB8.

What can I do to help?

Payroll Officers have been patient.  Payroll staff have agreed to facilitate every change which has been made necessary for the management of this disaster, and should not have to wait any longer for recognition.  If you are sick of waiting for the above issues to be resolved, why not email either the Acting Director General, or the Minister direct?  Tell them we don't want to make this an EB8 issue, and we want it sorted now!

Acting DG Tony O'Connell :  tony_o'connell@health.qld.gov.au
Minister Geoff Wilson :  health@ministerial.qld.gov.au.

A further update will be provided next week to all members.


Authorised Alex Scott, Secretary, Together.
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