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Job Reps and HSRs: what is the role of the workplace rep?

Job Reps and HSRs: what is the role of the workplace rep?

Job Reps and Health and Safety Reps voting on motions at the 2018 ANMF (Vic Branch) Annual Delegates Conference.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch), like most trade unions, relies heavily on a network of workplace-based reps to ensure our union can promote and defend the industrial, professional, occupational health and safety, social, political and democratic values and interests of our members across Victoria.

This valuable network comprises Job Representatives, or ‘Job Reps’ and Health and Safety Representatives, or ‘HSRs’.

Job Reps and HSRs are ANMF members elected by their peers who volunteer their time and efforts to contribute to an organised, fairer and safer workplace. The process of election varies significantly between Job Reps and HSRs.

‘Organised’ in union speak means members know who their elected reps are and workplace union reps know how to identify issues of concern and when to make contact with the ANMF for assistance.

Many workplace issues are experienced by a number of members and potential members. Job Reps and HSRs can heighten member awareness of these issues and facilitate formation of a collective voice on issues, and assist members to move towards their preferred outcomes. This is achieved by working together and with ANMF staff to achieve a respectful and productive workplace where entitlements and rights are understood, monitored for compliance, and properly implemented.

What is a Health and Safety Rep?

HSRs are elected to represent their Designated Work Group on a volunteer basis. HSRs, including Deputy HSRs, are the critical consultative link between employees and their employer for any matter which may affect the health and safety of members of their Designated Work Group (DWG).

A Designated Work Group (DWG) is a legal term in the Victorian OHS Act. Essentially it is an agreed group of employees who share similar workplace health and safety interests and conditions. It could comprise employees in one or multiple clinical areas.

This role is protected and underpinned by Victorian occupational health and safety law, which gives HSRs a voice in the workplace to raise and resolve OHS issues with their employer.

The OHS Act also provides the volunteer role of the HSR with legislated powers to escalate immediately further, if necessary. HSRs are instrumental in the identification of workplace hazards and risks to health and safety. They represent members’ views on preventative strategies and resolution of existing concerns, including at forums such as health and safety or occupational violence committees.

Can you be both a Job Rep and an HSR?

Yes. A member can be both a Job Rep and an HSR which can be a very effective method of addressing workplace issues. Members who hold the dual position often develop a valuable combination of skills and influence.

Ensuring that both roles are filled by active and enthusiastic incumbents provides assurance that ANMF members will be represented and protected with a voice in the workplace.

The key activities of an ANMF workplace rep are:

  1. Be identifiable to members and potential members, and management.
  2. Be the first point of contact for members, with workplace issues or queries, and refer members who need ANMF representation.
  3. Proactively identify and contact colleagues who are not union members for potential recruitment to the ANMF, and existing members to join you as a Job Rep or HSR.
  4. Be a resource for local members about benefits and services available from the ANMF.
  5. Attend local workplace meetings, such as consultative committees, agreement implementation committees (or WICs), occupational violence and aggression committees to assist ANMF staff to reflect the views of members
  6. Participate in regular meetings with other Job Reps, HSRs and the ANMF Organiser.
  7. Mobilise members to attend meetings and take part in campaigns on collective issues during both local and statewide campaigns.
  8. Maintain an up to date ANMF specific noticeboard to communicate with members and potential members.
  9. Notify ANMF of professional, safety and industrial concerns in the workplace and liaise with other local Job Reps and HSRs, the Organiser and other ANMF staff to resolve these issues.
  10. Assist members to seek their own information via the ANMF website, publications and the ANMF Information Line.
  11. Have access to relevant awards, enterprise agreements, legislation and OHS standards.

Resources and support

Your workplace has an ANMF Organiser allocated to assist and where necessary, represent members. Your Organiser operates in a team with other ANMF staff, including Professional Officers, Industrial Officers, the Mental Health Nursing Officer, the Midwifery Officer, Occupational Health and Safety Officers, Information Line and a range of other ANMF staff skilled and experienced in managing members’ and workplace issues.

In addition, the ANMF has the resources of Gordon Legal available for complex professional or legal matters.

Job Reps, HSRs and members can be confident that we have your back.

Our Organisers and other staff will step in to represent members both individually and collectively, and ensure that you are supported in fulfilling your role.