The Health Professionals and Support Staff Award is a wide-ranging award which covers both:
- employees in the health industry (“industry coverage”); and
- employees engaged as health professionals, regardless of the industry they work in (“occupational coverage”)
The Award’s industry coverage is defined to cover the following types of businesses and their employees (including their support staff):
“private medical, dental, pathology, physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathic practice[s] mean[ing] the practice of any practitioner, such as medical centre , general practice, specialist practice, family practice, medical clinic, dental practice, pathology practice, physiotherapy practice, chiropractic practice, osteopathic practice and women’s health centre, but does not include medical imaging practices, hospitals or hospices”
The health professionals occupations that the Award covers are listed in Schedule B to the Award and include roles such as: chiropractors, counsellors, homeopathists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, podiatrist, psychologists and speech pathologists.
Not all health professionals will be covered by this Award: Dentists and doctors are usually considered “award-free”. Nurses have their own award.
The health professionals listed in Schedule B will generally be covered by the Award even if they don’t work in the health industry. For example, an occupational therapist employed by an employer otherwise covered by the SCHADS Award would still generally come under the Health Professionals Award.
What is changing?
Following a decision of the Fair Work Commission (‘FWC’) last year, the Health Professionals Award is being amended from 1 July 2021 to make clear that the list of health professionals in the Award is not exhaustive and that it is capable of applying to other health professionals not included in the list. This will be made clear by the including the wording “an indicative list of health professionals”, when referring to the list of occupations in the Award.
Furthermore, the FWC has determined to add the occupations of dental hygienist, dental prosthetist and oral health therapist in the list of health professionals covered by the Award, to make clear that these roles will be covered. The Award already refers to industry coverage for dental practices, as well as referring to a number of health professionals who work in dentistry, such as dental therapist.
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