Bulletin 2 - Negotiations commenced - issued 15 July 2022

The first negotiation meeting for a new Dental Officers’ Enterprise Agreement was held on 14 July 2022. I am pleased to advise this was a productive meeting which was attended by representatives of the Community and Public Sector Union, employee representatives nominated bargaining agents, and representatives from the Department of Health and my office.

I advised that I am seeking an enterprise agreement that falls within the Northern Territory Public Sector Bargaining Policy 2021- 2024, and outlined a proposal with a wide range of improved conditions of employment.

We will work constructively in bargaining negotiations over the coming months to finalise a proposed new agreement.

It is important you are kept informed on the progress of negotiations as these proposals relate to your employment.

Details of the proposals

Below is an outline of the employer’s proposed conditions:

  • A 4 year agreement with an expiry date of 21 August 2026
  • $4,000 lump sum payment will be paid after the new agreement has been approved by the Fair Work Commission; and then $2,000 12 months after the expiry of the current Agreement and annually thereafter (August 2023, 2024 and 2025)
  • Commitment to pass on improvements if there are changes to the Wages Policy 2021 – 2024
  • 3 days Christmas Closedown leave, or where Dental Officers are required to work or do not closedown, employees will be able to bank the equivalent of 3 working days (i.e. 22.05 hours), to be taken within the following 12 months
  • No involuntary redundancies for term of the agreement (exception will be if an employee has been surplus for 2 years)
  • No reduction in current and future entitlements during term of the new agreement, and general employment conditions won’t be varied without consultation and agreement between the parties
  • CPI increase will apply for allowances covered by Determination 1 of each year
  • Where operationally viable, and where time off in lieu is not available, provide for up to 3 hours NAIDOC leave per annum to attend NAIDOC March and approved activities
  • Move leave related by-laws relevant to Dental Officers into the enterprise agreement (i.e. leave without pay, miscellaneous leave, defence service leave); and update other leave provisions in line with  by-laws/common conditions (e.g. jury service, release to attend as a witness, arbitration business)
  • Inclusion of “flexible-lifestyle leave” (currently purchased leave) to support work life balance and improve entitlement to allow purchase of up to 8 weeks leave
  • Work life Balance provisions to provide all requests for flexible work to be considered within 21 days, and may only be refused on reasonable business grounds; and only the CEO may decline a request to work from home
  • Enhance existing entitlements to support family responsibilities for an employee to have the right to return from parental leave on a part-time basis for up to 6 months
  • New entitlement for pre-natal leave to allow for a pregnant employee, and an employee whose partner is pregnant, access to 8 hours paid leave per pregnancy for the purpose of attending pregnancy-related medical appointments
  • Move Foster and Kinship Carers leave into the enterprise agreement (currently in Determination 7 of 2020)
  • Paid leave of 2 days for pre-adoption interviews. Paid leave for permanent care order applications and interviews for foster and kinship carers
  • Superannuation Guarantee (SG) payments on parental leave – SG will be doubled for primary care giver; and partner leave eligibility provisions will provide SG for 12 months
  • Expanded definition of ‘continuous service’ under Parental Leave will allow employment with other NT Government agencies (e.g. NT Police / AAPA) to count for service based entitlements
  • Gender transition leave will be introduced to support diversity at work, providing 4 weeks paid leave and 12 months unpaid
  • Improved paid compassionate leave of 5 days for immediate family/household members (and new provision to cover stillborn child)
  • New compassionate leave entitlement of 3 days paid leave on the death of an employee’s extended family member (e.g. aunt/uncle/niece/nephew/first cousin)
  • New miscarriage provision to be covered under compassionate leave – 3 days paid leave
  • The Australian First Nation’s definition of ‘kinship’ will be included in the Agreement for the purpose of providing 5 days paid leave for kinship obligations (sorry business)
  • Dispute settlement provisions to be improved by allowing disputes regarding refusals for requests for flexible work, or to extend parental leave, to be referred to arbitration
  • Union Delegate leave improved by removing the existing 12 month service requirement to be eligible for paid union delegate training leave
  • Domestic and family violence leave extended to cover circumstances of sexual violence
  • Infectious disease leave provisions to note employees may be eligible for workers compensation entitlements in accordance with the Return to Work Act 1986
  • Improve existing miscellaneous leave entitlement to allow an employee to access up to 1 hours paid leave per annum for mental health screening/cancer screening
  • War Service provisions to be improved and included in the agreement

Note: improvements to leave provisions will require the same notice and documentary evidence requirements.

The proposals that I outlined in our meeting also included some topics that Department of Health wishes to canvass during our negotiations.  These included:

Dental Officers – department initiatives

  • In recognition of the social and professional isolation associated with regional and remote services, an employee holding the classification of Dentist Officer in Nhulunbuy will be eligible to receive an attraction and retention allowance. This allowance is payable where the Dental Officer is living in Nhulunbuy and providing dental services in the dental clinic and surrounding regional areas. The attraction and retention allowance will replace the existing retention and remote services allowance, currently $15,432 per annum. This payment consists of:
    • Attraction allowance payment of $26,361 per annum, paid fortnightly where a Dental Officer residing in Nhulunbuy and performs the majority of their duties in remote areas; and
    • Retention allowance payment of $32,951 per annum, paid in a lump sum at the completion of each 12 months of service. Pro-rata payment of this allowance is not available.
  • Casual dental officer to be engaged and paid a minimum of 3 hours per shift.
  • Sabbatical leave - ability to take smaller blocks of leave subject to work unit head approval.
  • Returning to NT Health after a period of absence:
    • Parental leave - extend parental leave provisions where a Dental Officer who has 12 months service and returns to NT Health within 4 years of absence whilst working for a recognised employer.
    • Long service leave - where a Dental Officer undertakes employment with a recognised humanitarian dental program, or dental practice outside the department (as determined by the Commissioner for Public Employment), may be eligible to access long service leave provisions.
  • Professional development reimbursement payment – for clarity, reimbursement of the cost associated with travel to include meals.

Offer dentists

Have your say – your feedback is important

Should you wish to express a view on the proposals or make a suggestion, you can provide your feedback to me by emailing enquiries.ocpe@nt.gov.au

More information

Regular updates in relation to the bargaining process will be posted to the OCPE Webpage dedicated to Dental Officers Enterprise Agreement Negotiations

Information on bargaining in general can be obtained at www.fwc.gov.au or you can contact the Fair Work Commission information line on 1300 799 675.

Vicki Telfer PSM
Commissioner for Public Employment


Last updated: 15 July 2022

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