Home support workers thrown into turmoil after scheduling changes by Interior Health
A dramatic change to scheduling has dismayed dozens, if not hundreds, of home care support workers throughout the Interior Health region.
One worker who contacted iNFOnews.ca was told last week that there will now be a number of different start times, including evening shifts, that all workers will have to rotate through. These will posted and workers have to apply for them.
There will no longer be split shifts – which, she said, better fit the needs of the clients – or casual shifts.
“I’m befuddled how they can make people re-apply for their jobs,” she told iNFOnews.ca. “Just out of the blue you have to go to a job fair and re-apply for your job.”
She was, initially, quite willing to speak out publicly until her shop steward told her she could lose her job for talking to the media. iNFOnews.ca has chosen not to identify her.
“I’m not trying, necessarily, to save my job,” she said. “I want to speak out for these other people. What about the single parents? How are they going to get daycare on their two weeks of night shift? This is a hardship for people.”
The home care workers go into homes throughout the region and help with things like medication, meals, getting clients ready for bed and other tasks that help the elderly or those with disabilities stay in their homes.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1518 represents the workers and has filed a grievance on behalf of all home support workers in the Interior Health region.
“They did zero consultation and just put it on the home support workers,” Parm Kahlon, Local 1518’s managing director told iNFOnews.ca. “We have received over 60 impact statements from our members. That’s just the ones that have sent them to us. Most of them sent them to the employer directly. A lot of them are, like, how are we going to manage the family situation or the kids? It’s going to impact a lot of our members.”
The worker who contacted iNFOnews.ca said she likely won’t be able to continue working under the new system and has heard of others feeling the same situation.
She was told the change will happen in early January.
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The union filed a grievance on Friday, Nov. 25, and gave Interior Health 14 days to respond, Kahlon said.
The grievance said Interior Health should have given the union notice of the proposed change under Section 54 of the Labour Code. That gives the union at least 60 days to do things like negotiate an adjustment plan.
“I haven’t heard of any clients being impacted but we do already know there is shortage of home support workers and, if people start leaving because the schedules are changing, then patients will be impacted,” Kahlon said.
Interior Health, in an emailed statement to iNFOnews.ca, said it's standardizing work schedules throughout the region.
"Home health clients are at the heart of this change," the statement said. "It is being made to better meet the demand when clients need services and to reduce the number of unfilled shifts which leads to service cancellations and negatively impacts clients. It is also intended to create capacity for respite care and other services to support clients and their caregivers."
There will be day, evening and weekend shifts giving coverage from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, the health authority said.
"Interior Health has faced challenges filling the evening and weekend shifts and, by creating equitable rotations across the health authority, we are able to support staff recruitment and retention for these positions," the email said.
Contrary to what the union said, Interior Health said it has presented draft schedules to the workers and the union. It also said the changes comply with language in the collective agreement.
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