July 10, 2009

Inside this issue:

  • Code of conduct
  • Access to qualifications
  • Check your payslips
  • Relieving allowance on country relief
  • Reminder – new allowances

Code of Conduct

Members would have seen the Department’s Code of Conduct In Order issued today. Over the last fortnight the Union was consulted regarding the content of the document and changes where made to clarify members’ responsibilities in relation to eliminating fraud and corruption from the workplace.

For example, it was clarified that claims made in error or claims subject to a dispute are not fraud or corruption and where members make public comment with authorisation of their union they shall not be in breach of the code.

Whilst the code refers to responsibilities of managers/supervisors to ensure the risks of fraud are identified and managed, the Union does not believe that the Department can stop there. Rather, the Union shall be following up with the Department on its responsibility to provide members with the training, procedures and guidance required to properly implement to code.

The parties are also committed to jointly review the Code of Conduct after 6 months of operation.

Access to Qualifications

Currently there is no defined process by which members gain access to training courses for qualifications. Members applying for places on course such as Rescue, Hazmat, Aerial etc have been quoted a number of reasons as to why their applications have not been successful – ‘you have to be at the relevant station before you can be trained’, ‘we are above our quota’, ‘you’ll be on the next course’, ‘only if you agree to perform additional outduties’ – and despite some applications having gone in several years ago many are told ‘don’t worry you are on the list’.

The absence of a clear policy on how members obtain places on these courses has resulted in ad hoc, unfair and inequitable allocation of training.

The Union raised this issue with Department and it has agreed to the development of a transparent and equitable policy for how members gain qualifications. The parties shall commence discussions shortly with an aim to producing a policy that provides transparency, fairness and certainty.

Check your payslips

The Union was this week notified by two members who had discovered errors with their pays. One member, who is a reliever, was not paid his relieving allowance when he worked a part change of shift. The second had been incorrectly recorded as absent from work for a fortnight and so had money deducted from his subsequent pays to recoup what the system thought was an ‘overpayment’.

Both of these cases are currently being resolved with Payroll but what they have highlighted is that members need to check their pay slips each and every pay period. Errors caught in the period immediately following the pays are far easier to identify and resolve than those picked up six months down the track.

Relieving allowance on country relief

Frequently the Union is asked it members are entitled to the payment of the relieving allowance if they relieve in the country. The answer is that they are – provided that they are not claiming traveling compensation under Clause 26 of the Award.

For example where a member based in the GSA and living in Broken Hill performs country relief at the Broken Hill Fire Station they are entitled to payment of the relieving allowance because they are not entitled to any travel compensation.

If, however, a member is compensated for travel and accommodation expenses (including where they are provided with accommodation and paid incidentals and kilometres under Clause 26) then they shall not be entitled to claim the Relieving Allowance contained in Clause 12 of the Award.

The relevant Clause is 12.6.2 of the Crown Employees (NSW Fire Brigades Permanent Employees) Award 2008.

Reminder – new allowances

Members are reminded that when submitting claims for relieving new rates should be applied from 19 June 2009. The rates are as follows:

Relieving allowance:     Old rate $ 26.02  New rate  $ 27.07
Kilometre Allowance:    Old rate $   0.97  New rate  $  1.01