Working together to protect our future

With so many public holidays at the beginning of the year the Association had a number of queries surrounding the entitlements and how they are applied when it comes to working hours being on the same day as an RDO/ Public Holiday i.e. rostered on a 12 hour night shift and working into an RDO which is also a public holiday.

The issue first reared its head in 2018 when DCIS picked up an anomaly within myPaysheet. They put a fix into production without notifying HR and we had several members contact us about the issue resulting in an agreed interpretation being established between the Association and HR.

The anomaly had existed since the system went live in 2014 and the myPaysheet business rules did not recognise the interaction of the penalties. This resulted in members being paid double time for the hours they actually worked as well as the public holiday RDO rates, and this unfortunately was not noticed until 2018.

So for example between 2014 2018 if a member started a shift at 1900 and completed the shift at 0700 on the public holiday/ RDO members would have been paid double time for the hours worked i.e. 7 hours double time and then an additional 8 hours was paid for the RDO public holiday penalty- effectively it was double dipping on the entitlement.

Prior to 2014 the rule was that members were only paid double time for the hours actually worked- so in this situation 7 hours at double time and that was it- no RDO Public Holiday penalty.

HR and the Association agreed that the system that was functioning within myPaysheet was not industrially correct and we came to the agreed position that members would be paid for the hours they actually worked at double time so again in this example 7 hours plus they would be paid an additional 1 hour to bring it up to 8 for the day and no further penalty is paid.

The wording of the determination is somewhat confusing, and this will be rectified during the next Consent Agreement negotiations.

Also, back in 2018 I wrote an article for this magazine regarding the disciplinary process and the impact it has on members. I note that since that time there have been some improvements regarding the welfare concerns for members going through the process, but more could be done in the way in which matters are dealt with. I have noticed that after participating in a directed interview members are now being provided with information sheets about how to access NTPFES support and Wellbeing services which is commendable, however it is still the timeframe for concluding the investigations which causes members ongoing concern.

Bellow is an extract of that article which I believe is still relevant today: I have seen the complete devastation that a member goes through when being subjected to any action involving Part IV of the PAA. Members have been left hanging and waiting for extended periods of time wondering what is going to happen next, the whole time questioning how or why the alleged breaches even got that far and this is nothing short of torture. The impact this has on both the officer, their family and friends is far reaching and hard to swallow.

There have been several members who are long serving career coppers dedicated to their job who are now left pondering how a force that they have given so much of their life to can treat them this way, with the most common phrase I hear being, if they are going to give me a whack- then just do it, tell me what I did wrong- tell me what I need to do to improve and let me get on with my job

It beggars belief in some instances of late that Part IV action has even been considered with so many minor instances being investigated when in a number of cases simple managerial guidance or a conversation from a supervisor should be all that is necessary.

Dont get me wrong, we all want those who are investigating the alleged breaches of discipline to ensure they are getting it right, but what we dont understand is why once a members response has been provided there is a need to drag the process out. We recognise that the pressure being placed on our members in the investigations department from higher up is immense and as an Association we find this intolerable. Changes need to be made to ensure that the processes being carried out are managed without bias and personal influence and that those investigating alleged breaches are allowed to do their job without interference. We are finding ourselves still in a position where the cart is being put before the horse by management and this is an archaic and unacceptable way to manage a work force.

Its the not knowing whats going on, or whats going to happen next that sends many of our members over the edge, and in some instances that edge is really, really hard to get back from. The NT is a relatively small force, word spreads quickly, and members who are left hanging and waiting for an outcome know that a vast majority of their fellow officers know about some part of the allegations. They find themselves being approached daily by co-workers who are willing to offer their opinion about whats going on and many reports back saying they feel like they are constantly being watched and talked about.

Members start to second guess everything they are doing and have ever done throughout their career, and wonder how things ever got to be that way in the first place - disillusioned is a word that sums the sentiment up, along with anger and frustration, and how do you come back unscathed from feeling that way?

It is accepted that as police officers you are held to the highest regard and are always expected to be under scrutiny on and off the job in some instances, but it seems sometimes this is taken to the next level unnecessarily sometimes.

It has been noted that there has been an increase in members accessing the services of the Support and Wellbeing Branch which is a commendable change in attitude amongst members but also a sign of the times which is of great concern. Our members are reporting to the Association that they have never had such low morale in their careers, their faith has been lost in the powers that be, and there is little or no trust in the decision makers. And it has definitely not gone unnoticed amongst the membership that there has been a huge disparity between some of the actions taken against members as of late. This has resulted in some members finding themselves in life changing situations for incidents that simply do not warrant it- consistency is all that the membership want and deserve and it seems that in some scenarios this has not been the case over the past six months or so.