As we wish to celebrate not just the year past, but allied scientific and technical practitioners in particular, as we look to the year ahead, we have created a special 2021 APEX calendar for our members. We have included significant dates for APEX itself, the days on which we celebrate your roles, as well as noting the expiry dates of our collective agreements that occur during the year (as at date of publication) to remind ourselves of colleagues entering the bargaining process throughout 2021. The cartoon featured in this calendar reflects the theme for our 2020 Delegates Conference, and whilst the main focus is on health, resonates for our colleagues in other sectors such as education also.
The calendar also includes questions that are relevant to our members, the answers to which will be published below on a monthly basis. Click on the month to reveal the answer for the question of the month.
Holidays: You applied in January to take two weeks annual leave in April. This was approved but two weeks before you were due to take it your employer tells you they are cancelling your leave because they are understaffed. What do you do?
a. Rearrange your holiday plans for a later agreed date.
b. Thank you employer but explain that you do not agree to cancelling your leave.
c. Arrange with colleagues to cover your work and go back to your employer with this proposal
d. Given how short staffed your department normally is, accept that two consecutive weeks was always going to be a hard ask but ask your employer to at least reimburse you for costs incurred.
Answer: b. Thank you employer but explain that you do not agree to cancelling your leave.
Once approved leave cannot be revoked or cancelled without your consent. This is also true if you wish to cancel your own leave, your employer has to agree to this. If you find yourself in the situation described we suggest responding: “I have considered your request, however I do not consent to cancelling my approved leave.”
Bullying: Bullying is repeated, unreasonable and directed behaviour towards you or a group of people. Which of the below may not be an example of bullying?
a. Your colleague has demeaned you on a few occasions during weekly work meetings by stating that your ideas are rubbish. They roll their eyes when you speak at meetings, and they tell your colleagues that you’re bad at your job. They do not act this way towards anyone else.
b. Your manager has a bad day and explodes at you during a staff meeting one day and storms out. This has never happened before however you do feel upset by their behaviour especially as it was in front of colleagues.
c. You are new to a department that has had a stable workforce for many years. The staff have traditionally had a social function once a month but understandably you are not invited to attend as you are not a member of the “old team”. After a few months you are feeling a bit uncomfortable being the only one who doesn’t get included and have heard they talk about you when they are together.
Answer: a Your colleague has demeaned you on a few occasions during weekly work meetings by stating that your ideas are rubbish. They roll their eyes when you speak at meetings, and they tell your colleagues that you’re bad at your job. They do not act this way towards anyone else.
and c. You are new to a department that has had a stable workforce for many years. The staff have traditionally had a social function once a month but understandably you are not invited to attend as you are not a member of the “old team”. After a few months you are feeling a bit uncomfortable being the only one who doesn’t get included and have heard they talk about you when they are together.
Both a and c are examples of bullying as they are harmful. a because it is harmful and directed at you, and c because it is exclusionary, sustained and repeated; the behaviour has occurred more than once and is aimed towards you.
While B might be considered unreasonable, it is not repeated so cannot be considered bullying at this stage.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is unwelcome or offensive sexual behaviour that is repeated, or is serious enough to have a harmful effect, or which contains an implied or overt promise of preferential treatment or an implied or overt threat of detrimental treatment. Which of the following examples would be considered sexual harassment?
a. A manager constantly asks employees if they ‘scored over the weekend’
b. Your team leader is very experienced, a great teacher and always happy to go out of their way to teach new approaches. They see you are struggling with a technique which requires direct patient contact and suggests that they give you some pointers. You are keen to learn and accept the offer. You join them in a clinic room to go through the process, which involves them touching you so you can understand better how to clinically approach a patient. You feel uncomfortable and embarrassed but accept that it is a clinical teaching environment.
c. Your manager cuddles female colleagues in an overly familiar way and refuses to stop because he says it is just part of his generation.
Answer: This is a trick question, all three of these examples can be considered sexual harassment.
It’s important to note that even if the sexual harassment is unintentional, and the person who is being offensive is initially unaware of its effect, they can still be held responsible if they refuse to acknowledge that their behaviour needs to change, and they do in fact stop. What’s most important is how the behaviour affects you. If you are feeling uncomfortable then you are entitled to call it out and seek help from the union if you are not in a position to tackle it yourself (e.g. because you are being harassed by someone who has power over you) and/or the harasser refuses to stop.
Sick Leave: Sick leave can be taken if you are sick or injured, your spouse is sick or injured, or a person who depends on you for care is sick or injured. Under what circumstances do you need to provide your employer with a sickness certificate? (Hint: The Holidays Act, your employment agreement, and employer policies are all part of the answer.)
a. If they ask for one.
b. If you are absent for 3 days or more.
c. If the employer states that they will pay for any costs of getting the sickness certificate.
d. Only if it is a mental health issue, not a physical health issue.
Answer: a. If they ask for one.
You only need to provide a medical certificate if you are on sick leave and your employer requests one. B is not correct as just because you are away from work due to sickness for 3 or more days does not automatically mean you have to provide a medical certificate. You only need to do this if your employer requests one, and you must pay the costs of getting this. If your employer requests a medical certificate and you have been away from work for less than 3 days, then you must provide one but your employer has to pay the costs associated with obtaining one.