depa offers a prize in 2015

The introduction of a Health and Wellbeing provision in the Award has really frightened the horses. Not to mention those people afraid of precedents or providing their supervisory staff and managers with a discretion.

A simple clause intended to allow employees to apply for access to days from their sick leave for activities that assist their health, fitness and wellbeing was greeted by the stone-wallers and wowsers putting up the barricades - trying to set up policies to restrict its application only for pre-arranged preventative medical appointments. Too many people were afraid of setting precedents, and the not just the old bustards at Wagga Wagga.

We would like to see Councils embrace the concept by having the consultative committee call for ideas about what could fall within the general category of health and well-being activities rather than simply putting up t a wall to prevent supervisors or managers considering whether someone could do with an afternoon bushwalking, or surfing, or doing a meditation course or yoga, or consultation on a program with a professional trainer, or a head-clearing game of golf, or tai chi in the mornings in a group, or whatever.

We would like to see a Council introduce the provision with a broad discretion to supervisors and managers to call it as they see it, understanding that rorting the system will destroy it forever, but providing real access to employees to do things to improve their health, fitness and well-being.

As depa was the originator of the clause, LGNSW invited us to speak at their HR group meeting in September. They did so with the warning that this was not a time to be talking about HR flunkies and unimaginative bureaucrats and, from our perspective, the meeting contained very few, if any, who that could fit into that category. Certainly none of them put their hands up to ask a question.

So, excited by the prospects of good things happening in the company of councils saying they were already doing things like that, depa offered a $500 prize to be awarded in 2015 for the Council which most embraces the spirit and intention of this provision and the desirability of access being provided to sick leave days for wide-ranging activities with limited restrictions.

We are talking to LGNSW about an appropriate way of managing this and judging it and the $500 prize, because giving people cash is a bit of a bad look in local government (particularly if you’re sitting in the back of the Lord Mayor’s Bentley in Newcastle), so the $500 will be available for the favourite charity of the winning Council.

We’ll keep you in the loop. Given what we have seen so far, some councils are looking at being broad and inclusive while many are looking at being narrow-focused and fearful.

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