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Understanding higher duties

Understanding higher duties

‘Higher duties’ refers to the work performed by an employee required to relieve another employee in a higher classification. A higher duties clause has been part of awards that apply to nurses for decades and is included in the Modern Award (Nurses Award 2010).  The actual higher duties provision that applies at your workplace will be in accordance with the industrial instrument (award or enterprise agreement) that governs the terms and conditions of your employment.

I work in a large private aged care facility. The director of nursing (DON) is going on annual leave for two weeks. What should the registered nurse who is relieving the DON be paid?

The majority of aged care facilities have a clause in the enterprise agreement that states that an employee engaged for more than two hours in any shift on duties carrying a higher rate than their usual classification will be paid for the full shift at the higher classification.

If engaged in higher duties for two hours or less, only the time worked at higher duties will be paid for at the higher rate. So, the registered nurse relieving the DON for two weeks will be paid the minimum DON rate for the full two weeks. This would not apply if the registered nurse relieving the DON was the deputy DON.

I am an associate nurse unit manager (ANUM) working in a private hospital and my nurse unit manager (NUM) is going on annual leave.  Am I entitled to be paid more when I am in charge of the unit during her absence?

ANUMS are appointed to undertake in-charge functions and relieve the NUM for all the shifts the NUM does not work and for the NUM’s absences on leave up to and including five days.  For all NUM absences in excess of five days, the relieving ANUM working on the NUM’s usual rostered shifts should be paid the NUM year 1 rate for the entire period of absence, including the first five days.

I am a Grade 2 registered nurse/midwife working in the public sector. What rate should I be paid if I am in-charge of the unit?

A Grade 2 registered nurse or midwife (or a CNS/CMS) should not ordinarily be required to act in charge during the off-duty period of the unit manager. If exceptional circumstances arise and this does occur, the nurse or midwife must be paid at the ANUM/AMUM year 1 rate for the entire shift, provided the minimum requirement of permanently appointed ANUM/ AMUM has been met.

For all 24/7 wards, there must be five equivalent full time (EFT) ANUM/AMUM shifts available for appointment, with four EFT being permanently appointed. The fifth EFT may be permanently appointed or may be used to provide non-appointed midwives/nurses with experience as an ANUM/AMUM.

In non 24/7 units, the employer is to appoint sufficient ANUM/AMUMs to cover all off-duty periods of the NUM/MUM.

Where the permanently appointed EFT requirements above have not been met, the RN/RM in charge of the shift is to be paid at the minimum rate applicable to the substantive NUM/MUM position, being either NM2, NM3 or NM4.

I am an enrolled nurse working in an aged care facility. What do I get paid if there is no registered nurse available and I am in charge of the facility during my shift?

Most aged care enterprise agreements require a registered nurse to be on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However if the employer, despite every practicable effort, is unable to secure a registered nurse for a shift, then generally a per shift allowance is payable to the enrolled nurse, rather than a higher hourly rate of pay.

In all cases, members are strongly advised to check the enterprise agreement or other industrial instrument that applies to your workplace, to determine how, or if, higher duties applies.

I am a registered nurse working in a GP clinic and the nurse manager is going to be attending a conference for two days. I have been asked to act in her role in her absence. Am I entitled to be paid a higher rate?

The majority of nurses working within GP settings are employed under the terms of the Nurses Award 2010. Acting in the role for two days would not entitle you to receive higher rates of pay. The Nurses Award 2010 states you would have to be relieving an employee in a higher classification for three days or more to be paid at the higher classification rate.