By Reny Frighetto
Human Resources & Education Manager
There is no award that covers Optometrists. The minimum terms and conditions of employment for optometrists are contained in the National Employment Standards (NES).
So what are these stardard? There are 10 employment standards, but these are the key ones:
Maximum weekly hours
38 hours per week. Some contracts may contain 40 hours. As an Optometrist, reasonable extra hours are expected.
Four weeks entitlement for full-time staff. Part time staff receives four weeks on a pro-rata basis.
Personal/Carers Leave and Compassionate leave
Full-time staff receive 10 days each year and part time staff receive pro-rata entitlement. Personal leave can be taken by an employee to look after a member of their immediate family. This benefit accumulates each year. Compassionate leave covers the situation when a member of the employee’s immediate family or household has an illness or injury that poses a serious threat to their life or dies.
Long Service Leave
This entitlement is available in all states. In most states entitlement is 13 weeks after 15 years’ service. In some states this entitlement may be pro rata for service between five and 10 years’ service.
Parental Leave and related entitlements
Employees are entitled to unpaid parental leave if they have been with the employer for at least 12 months service. However, you are able to request a further 12 months (24 months in total) if one member of the employee couple wishes to take more than 12 months leave. The employer must guarantee a return to work to the pre- parental leave position or if that is no longer available to a similar position. There is also the government Paid Parental scheme that is available to eligible employees. This is 18 weeks of paid leave based on the minimum rate of pay.
All employees are entitled to Public Holidays. However, some optometrists may need to work on these days and this should be covered in your contract or agreement agreed in your roster of work.
Notice of Termination and Redundancy pay
the notice of termination is as follows:
Less than one year: one week
One year to three years: two weeks
Three years to five years: three weeks
Over five years: four weeks. (Some contracts may state a greater period of notice in their contracts).
Where there are more than 15 employees, then redundancy payment are applicable and these are based on years of service. You should check with your employer to see what these entitlements are.
Requests for flexible working arrangements
To request flexible working arrangements you must have 12 months service and this usually applies to employees returning from Parental leave.
Community Service Leave
This covers Jury service and also if you are a member of the SES or CFA and need to attend in an emergency situation.
This is a clause that is contained in some contracts of employment that is intended to protect the proprietary interests of the employer.
The intent is to limit the employee to work within a specified area for a specified time For example: a restraint Area ‘within six kilometres of the employer premises’, or restraint period “for six months after termination of employment.’
The key thing to understand is that you should always clarify the implications of the restraint clause before signing the contract because once you have signed it you are bound by it.
So consider the implications if you are thinking of leaving the employer in terms of where you are able to practice. This could be particularly important in regional areas.
Employer Superannuation Contributions
Have you checked to see if your employer is making the correct superannuation contributions to your fund? This is very important and you should check to make sure it is 9.5 per cent of your salary.
Optometrists are not covered by an Award. Always check your contract for the Terms and Conditions of employment and make sure that you are receiving the minimum NES.
Make sure that you are aware of any Restraint clause and the limitations should you leave your employer.
Photo by Jan Truter / CC BY