Optometry practice support staff (as well as optometrists) should be provided coverage under the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010 (HP&SS Award), according to an announcement by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The announcement this week, aims to clarify uncertainty over whether practice support staff were covered by the HP&SS Award or the General Retail Industry Award (Retail Award).
In a special announcement to members, Lyn Brodie, CEO of Optometry Australia wrote, “As previously advised, the Fair Work Ombudsman has announced that optometrists, optical dispensers and other retail support staff are covered by the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010.
employers who pay staff under the higher HP&SS Award rates would be at less risk of an underpayment claim
“Our lawyers, Industry Legal Group (ILG), have investigated this on behalf of Optometry Australia and have provided further detailed advice to assist employers and practice managers.
“We have worked closely with ILG to ensure that this will be a positive outcome for members. It is an acknowledgement that optometry and everyone working in a practice is a key part of the health sector and most importantly, there is clarity on the position.”
An Award clarification update and advice from Industry Legal Group, published on Optometry Australia letterhead stated in part:
“After undertaking a benchmarking exercise across a number of indicative support staff rosters for optometry practices operating across a seven-day roster, we found that while there are differences between the penalty, loading and overtime rates, the main pay rates are slightly higher under the HP&SS Award. The calculations demonstrate that when taking into consideration penalty, loading and overtime rates paid to both casual and permanent employees (including on weekends and public holidays), overall the costs to business were comparable albeit slightly higher under the HP&SS Award. Following this logic, employers who pay staff under the higher HP&SS Award rates would be at less risk of an underpayment claim.”
The clarification said an employee currently classified as a Level 4 employee under the Retail Award will generally translate to a Level 5 employee under the HP&SS Award.*
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has announced a 3% increase to minimum wages, which will apply from the first full pay period starting on or after 1 July 2019. This increase may not need to be passed on to employees who are paid above the Award pay rate.
An industry-based salary structure that optometrists can use when determining how to pay their optometrists will be provided to members over the coming weeks.
Click here for further detailed advice to assist employers and practice managers.
For queries, contact ILG’s Optometry Australia Member Assist (OAMA) team on (AUS) 1300 153 154 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or a support team member at Optometry Australia on (AUS) 03 9668 8500.