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Nurses may quit if penalty rates go

Four out of five nurses would consider abandoning the profession if existing penalty rates applying to wages were axed, a new ANMF survey has found.

With the holiday season looming, the union has issued a fresh warning to legislators against making changes that would reduce or remove penalty rates and loadings for those working outside standard hours.

The Turnbull Government has recently been examining penalty rates as part of a wide-reaching review that could lead to major workplace relations reform. Changes to penalty rates across a range of industries and professions has been singled out by many experts as a key area the government may be seeking changes. However, the Turnbull administration was yet to confirm what if any changes it would seek to make to health sector penalties.

ANMF federal secretary Lee Thomas said a recent draft report of the Productivity Commission into workplace relations targeting retail and hospitality industry workers was cause for concern among her members, saying that “we wonder how long it will be before nurses and midwives are under threat”.

“Our 250,000 members rely on being fairly compensated for working shifts over Christmas and other special days, including public holidays and weekends,” Thomas said.

She added that the full results of a member survey, in which 80 per cent of respondents said they would consider quitting the profession if existing penalty rates were axed, would be included in a “comprehensive report on the economic and health impact of cutting penalty rates”.

The report concluded, she said, that permanent nurses rely on penalties for a fifth of their income.

“Nurses and midwives across the country are making Christmas plans with their families that involve them going to work and caring for other people’s families," Thomas said. "They should not have to sacrifice fair wages for these sacrifices.”

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