A guide for new ENs
As a new enrolled nurse starting out in your career, it can be daunting to know your pay entitlements.
ANMF (Vic Branch) members have fought hard and long over the years to improve your work entitlements. Your entitlements are in your EBA (enterprise bargaining agreement or Nurses Award 2010). An example of an EBA is the “Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Health Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement 2016-2020 “. You can check your workplace’s EBA from the Member Portal.
Some entitlements are not automatic and must be claimed. We don’t want you to miss out. This article looks at many of the ways you can check your wages and entitlements.
We want to ensure that you are receiving your correct entitlements and if you’re not, how you can address that with confidence.
Don’t throw out your letter of offer
When you are offered your first EN job, your employer will send you a letter of offer. Always keep this filed away as importantly it states your classification and pay point, hours of work, commencement date etc and will be needed for any future claims regarding your pay and conditions. Any subsequent letters from your employer should also be kept.
Classification and pay rates
Public sector and some large private employers commence diploma entry ENs at level 2.3. or public sector mental health PEN level 1.7. Check your individual EBA.
Experience incremental progression
After each “year of experience” you progress up the pay points on your anniversary date (annual pay increment). Your anniversary date is the date you first commenced work as an EN.
Keeping your first pay slip and letter of offer is important as it’s evidence of your anniversary date even if you change employers.
A year of experience usually means working on average 3 shifts a week and if you work less than 1248 hours a year then you must wait an additional year to progress. If you are employed under the Nurses Award 2010, then you progress when you reach 1786 hours.
What if I am classified incorrectly or my employer is not progressing me up the pay points correctly?
You can make a claim, limited to the previous six years for a pay query with your employer. See ‘How to correct pay errors’ below.
Full-time employees are entitled to 190 hours (five weeks) leave per year. An additional 38 hours is added if you are a shift worker as defined in your EBA, but usually where you are full-time and you work ordinary hours on weekdays and weekends. Please refer to your EBA for details for this entitlement as it does differ in each agreement.
Do I get paid the leave loading or penalties with my annual leave payment?
In addition to ordinary pay, you will receive one of the following two payment options (whichever is the higher).
- Annual leave loading is 17.5 % of the ordinary rate of pay, limited to four weeks of annual leave. Frequently the payment is averaged to 14% on the full five weeks of annual leave.
- If you are a shift worker for each week of annual leave you will be paid for ordinary hours of work plus penalties and shift loadings (including evening shift work and weekend/night duty work, qualification and uniform allowance).
Your wages shouldn’t drop when you are on annual leave. As a rule, if you are a shift worker, the penalties are the higher of the two options. Check with your employer’s annual leave policy or your EBA as how this is claimed (projected roster or preceding rosters).
You are entitled to be given your contracted hours as specified in your letter of offer/contract. Your roster cannot leave you short changed of your contracted hours. If you are approached by management to take a rostered shift as “leave without pay” or to take annual leave, you are not obliged to do so. If you want more advice or support, contact ANMF Member Assistance.
If you work it, claim it. Generally, full-time and part-time employees are entitled to payment for overtime if:
- in the public sector – you work beyond your rostered shift length, are recalled to duty, or work more than 76 hours in a fortnightly pay period.
- in the private sector – you work more than full-time hours (7.6 day shift or 10 hrs night duty) or work more than 76 hours in a fortnightly pay period.
Overtime rates are generally:
- Monday to Friday – 1.5 of your ordinary rate (also known as time and half) for the first two hours and double time thereafter
- Saturday/Sunday – all overtime paid at double time
- Public holidays – at the public holiday penalty rate
To ensure you get paid for your overtime ensure that your manager is aware you are working overtime. Some EBAs state that you must get the overtime approved by management.
Allowances can add to your pay. Check your individual EBAs to see what you are entitled to.
In order to be eligible for this, ENs must hold a relevant certificate or other qualification that is 6 to 12 months duration. This does not apply to endorsement of medication administration qualification.
This allowance usually applies to the aged care sector. If you are eligible for a medication allowance, it is not dependant on how many shifts you administer medications and is usually in addition to your weekly wages.
If you work more than one-hour overtime, you are entitled to a meal allowance (or in some cases provision of a meal). You may be entitled to an additional Meal Allowance depending on the number of overtime hours worked.
Team leader allowance
This may be an allowance provided in your EBA and only applies if you are “appointed’ as a team leader and undertaking duties in addition to those required of the EN role.
Uniform and laundry allowance
Uniform allowance applies where the employer requires a descriptive clothing (usually with employer logo on) to be worn and is not supplied free of cost by the employer. This is not to be mistaken for a “dress code” where a uniform allowance will not apply.
Where the employees uniforms are not laundered by or at the expense of the Employer, you will be entitled to a laundry allowance.
EN in charge of facility
Some aged care EBAs will have an EN in-charge allowance when a registered nurse cannot be rostered after hours. Payment may depend on the number of beds the facility has and will be set out in your EBA. As an EN, you must always work under the supervision of a RN (direct or indirect). If you find you will be in-charge, during the shift a registered nurse must be rostered on call to assist you.
Not able to take a meal break?
Where an employee is required to remain available or on duty during a meal break (including that they are advised that they are unable to leave the ward/unit or facility) or is interrupted during that meal break, the employee will be paid for the meal break as time worked at the ordinary rate or overtime rate as per your EBA.
“Super” is money that your employer pays towards your retirement and is paid on all ordinary time earnings (OTE).
The current rate is 9.5% of ordinary time earnings is scheduled to be increased to 10% in July 2021. Your employer must pay this at least four times a year.
Check with your super fund that your employer is complying. If not, you can call the Australia Tax Office on 132 861.
How to correct pay errors
Sometimes it can be daunting raising pay concerns with your employer. However, you should not feel uncomfortable seeking your entitlements. The following steps will make it easier for you:
- It is recommended to put your pay query in writing.
- Find out all your facts before you write. Provide supporting evidence if relevant. If you know the clause in your EBA/Award to which your query refers, state the clause number. If you are not sure, contact MemberAssistance.
- When you are submitting your pay query, always keep the tone of the email/letter polite.
- It is recommended to request a response in writing and a time frame for the response to your query e.g. “Please respond in writing within 10 working days”.
- Send your pay query to the pay office directly. You can if you wish cc in your manager or HR.
- If your email gets ignored or you get an unsatisfactory response to your query, you can contact ANMF for further assistance.
Your EBA will change every two to four years and therefore your pay rates and entitlements will also change. We suggest keeping a folder on your computer or a hardcopy one with all of your important paperwork (including payslips) that you can refer back to as needed.
Please ensure you check your EBA and contact ANMF Member Assistance if you need clarification with any aspect of one of the many clauses.