The Tasmanian nurses' union fears that employers could "take advantage of" the goodwill of part-time nurses and midwives under proposed federal industrial relations changes, putting part-time workers on a single rate.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation's Tasmania branch made a submission to the Senate inquiry into the proposed workplace law changes, detailing the concerns of its members.
They included concerns that the suspension of the "better off overall" test in regards to enterprise bargaining would have an "enormous" impact on nurses.
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The ANMF listed seven recent agreements with Tasmanian healthcare workplaces that only passed after the employer made undertakings to the Fair Work Commission under the better off overall test, but the ANMF fears these would have passed without those protections under the new laws, leaving staff worse off.
But their main concerns centred on the rights of part-time workers, should they be placed on a single rate.
"Nurses, midwives and care workers report consistently that employers will continually seek part-time workers to pick up extra shifts to cover rostered shortfalls, sick leave or when the employers staffing model to staff the workplace with casuals fail as they can't secure casuals to work shifts," the submission reads.
"This proposed reform again will disadvantage nurses, midwives and care workers who choose to work part-time.
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"It will allow employers to take advantage of our members goodwill and concern for their colleagues and those who they are providing care to, as they will not want to leave a health facility or aged care facility short-staffed."
Last month, Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter rejected similar criticism of the reforms, and said the FWC already had the power to approve agreements that were not compliant with the better off overall test in "very limited and exceptional circumstances".
He said the intention of the provision was to ensure that businesses at risk of failure due to COVID could continue operating with their employees to "find a way to keep going".
The part-time changes would allow these workers to get more hours, Mr Porter said.
In December, Bass Liberal MHR Bridget Archer said she would not support "any erosion of workers' rights", but there "has to be a balance".
"Having come out of many years in hospitality, both employers and employees need a degree of flexibility but things have changed - the nature of work and the nature of industries have changed over time - so I think we have to be able to be adaptable to do that," she said.
"I do think we have to maintain rights for the workers as well. We don't want people to be worse off."
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