Oral Health Update 6 March

NUPE advice to members:

On Friday 4/3/11 CDHB Oral Health Practice Managers Jackie and Jan sent out an email to Dental Therapists and Assistants which stated:  please be aware that all CDS staff are expected to present for work on Monday 7th March (or your first day of work that week) whether or not the school/community clinic from which you are currently working is open.  If the school where your current clinic is based does not open you will be redeployed.  Please contact your Practice Manager should exceptional circumstances cause you to seek an exemption from this requirement.  Requests will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Redeployment to ROP or Clinics:  Your original letters of offer do allow the CDHB to redeploy staff around the CDHB.  “We do however retain the right to require you to work in another area of the School and Community Dental Services if necessary.”  Plainly in an emergency, this redeployment can be done at short notice and without the normal amount of consultation required.  However, this ability does refer to doing the same type of work as normal eg Relief of Pain (ROP) but in a different location.

Redeployment to non-oral health work:  The major issue that has arisen is where staff have been called back and then either sat around or been given work that was seen as “digging holes and filling them up again to keep occupied.”   This can be galling when there are useful tasks to be done at home or in your local community.  The Labour Department site http://www.dol.govt.nz/quake/  gives helpful advice to employers as below:  An individual employee has the right to refuse to do work they consider unsafe.  Discuss the work and the concerns before it gets to this point. If you have decided it is safe share your knowledge and reasoning with staff alongside the decision.  In answer to a question about whether employees can be asked to do clean up work – “f employees are concerned about doing this work, they should discuss it with the employer and if they are being asked to do work they don’t normally do, there should be a discussion about the employee’s capability to do the work, and about supervision, and, especially, what protective gear employees will be provided with.

The emphasis is on getting agreement between staff and the employer about doing the out of scope work.  Unfortunately perhaps the usual amount of goodwill is not present towards managers because of recent events. 

Outcome of discussions – CDHB management have stated to NUPE that they expect oral health staff (assuming they do not have exceptional circumstances) to come to work from Monday.  Staff will be redeployed but only if there is useful work that they can do.  If not staff will be allowed to go home.  However due to changes in the EQ response situation, management expect there to be useful work for all who turn up.  If staff are uncomfortable with the work allocated, they should raise that with the manager concerned and try to reach agreement on what to do.

Quake or special leave

CDHB has allowed a number of days as quake leave.   For Oral Health, leave from Monday 7/3/11 on due to anxiety has to be sick leave; while quake or special leave is only regarding exceptional circumstances concerning property or family and has to be approved by Carolyn Cooper General Manager.  

Any questions contact martin@nupe.org.nz