Wrapping up CI-23 and permanent jobs at NMHS for our Casual Security Officers (finally!)

Friday 25 Sep 2020

The Commissioner’s Instruction No.23 (Pathway to Permanency) (CI-23) is finally wrapping up and while it has been a drawn out and patchy process, many union members have succeeded in receiving offers of permanent jobs under the CI-23 review process. Before we say goodbye to CI-23 we wanted to highlight some of our recent member wins. In particular, the wins where the union helped members successfully appeal decisions, resulting in offers of permanency. These included:

  • Social worker – eight years on FTC – CAHS
  • Administrative assistant – five years on FTC – EMHS
  • Therapist – 15 years on FTC – CAHS
  • Clinical psychologist – four years on FTC – NMHS
  • Clerk - casual – EMHS
  • Administrative assistant – three years on FTC – NMHS

Security officers at North Metro

The most significant dispute under CI-23 involved our group of casual security officers at North Metropolitan Health Service. We are delighted to report that now all members have received an offer of permanent employment.

Late last year, the employer advised members they had met the general criteria for CI-23 but could not be offered a permanent job due to the lack of ‘permanently funded positions’. HSUWA disputed this interpretation. The language in the instruction required only an ‘expectation’ that a position can be accommodated within the employing authorities’ ‘approved expense limits over the forward estimates period’. Given some members had been engaged for up to 10 years as casuals, we felt that there was a solid expectation the positions were funded.

The matter escalated to the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission and the union engaged external legal representation. Fortunately, the matter was resolved before the hearing took place. However, the whole process was protracted by the employer, which we felt was unfair on the workers. It put our members under significant stress. A final win was well deserved.

Congratulations to our members who were resilient, professional and patient. They have been successful in finding something that should not be elusive in our public health services: job security.

Where to next?

As many members would know, public sector casual and fixed-term contract employees who were employed on 10 August 2018 were eligible to have the employment reviewed for permanency under CI-23.

The review process set out a list of criteria to be met, including employment of two years. However, there was a lack of consistency across the different Health Service Providers (HSP) in applying the criteria and making assessments. Many reviews did not even commence until 12 months after the introduction of CI-23, with the HSPs failing to commit the resources required to complete the reviews until significant pressure from HSUWA and other unions.

The upshot is that the CI-23 process has now run its course and we have a new review process for casuals and fixed-term contract employees included in the Union Agreement 2020 – which will come into effect later in the year.

The new review process will be more structured with clear time frames for assessment. CI-23 was successful in providing a mechanism for members to be offered a permanent job but it was not successful as a “corrective measure” for hiring practices. We remain very concerned that, overall, the use of fixed term and casual employment has not reduced across WA Health. This is borne out by the statistics. In both November 2019 and June 2020 more than 50 per cent of all new employees (under HSUWA-covered jobs) were engaged on fixed-term contracts, and more than 20 per cent as casuals.

Assisting members with the new review process and advocating for secure jobs will remain a key focus of the union in 2021.

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