Australasian Society of Career Medical Officers

New CMO Award in NSW - 26 May 2005
Updated 5th March 2008

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5th Mar 2008 update: Applications for appointment to Senior CMO Grade in NSW

NSW Health has issued Guidelines for Senior CMO Grading in NSW. These Guidelines are currently being used by the Senior Grading committee when assessing applications. Therefore anyone wanting to apply for Senior CMO Grading in NSW, should ensure their applications cover all aspects within these guidelines.

The organisation addressing these issues is primarily ASCMO.
If you want to support this action, join ASCMO
Encourage your colleagues to join ASCMO.

New CMO Award 'made' in NSW Industrial Commission 26th May 2005. .

Believe it or not, we now have a new CMO Award in NSW. This is the first time that the NSW CMO award has been comprehensively revised since its inception in 1988. This is fantastic achievement for the Australasian Society of Career Medical Officers. Any perceived deficiencies in these new arrangements will now have to wait 3 years to be addressed. (Apologies to those who wanted ASCMO to achieve everything in a single step.)

Translation arrangements:
    1. CMOs will be translated across to the equivalent salary scale, provided that no CMO is disadvantaged in this process. Details of these translation arrangements are set out in new CMO salary scale from 20th April 2005.

    2. A new Senior CMO Grade has been established and criteria for reaching this Grade are set out within the Award and in the Guidelines for Senior CMO Applications.

    3. Existing Grade 2 and 3 CMOs with more than 7 years service to NSW Health will have access to a special 'Transitional CMO Grade' according to their specific Grading at 20th April 2005.

A Little bit of background:
    It took several years of lobbying from ASCMO before the representative unions for CMOs in NSW, lodged a claim for a new CMO Award in Dec 2001. The Dept of Health expressed a willingness to negotiate and avoid arbitration. Yet it took more than three years of negotiation before receiving an offer from the Dept that our two representative unions (ASMOF & HSU) could agree with, as its perceived benefits outweighed any continued deficiencies.

    On 20th Apr 2005, the department surprised everyone by withdrawing its 22nd March 2005 offer, that had already been forwarded to, and agreed by both unions. In view of breaching 'good faith' upon which all negotiations are based, the Industrial Commissioner suggested that the Dept consider providing benefits for existing CMOs in any revised offer. The subsequent 'revised 3rd May 2005 offer from Dept of Health' was considered to be worthy of support from ASCMO, ASMOF/HSU negotiating committee and CMO memberships of both unions.
      (It was recognised that some issues remained unaddressed in this offer, yet the combined opinion was that perceived benefits exceeded any ongoing deficiences. The only alternative was having the award arbitrated by the commission, that was likely to involve further delays lasting months or years, with an unpredictable outcome.)

    Finally, on 26th May 2005, after 7 years of persistent lobbying from ASCMO, we had a new Award for NSW CMOs . The Industrial Commission included various backdated provisions: the initial 4% payrise was backdated to 1st July 2004 and all remaining provisions were backdated to 20th April 2005. (When the department renegged on its previously 'agreed offer'.)
The New CMO Award now provides for:
    1. A more navigable Salary Scale with the addition of a new Senior CMO Grade,

    2. The removal of all forms of the penalty, public holiday payment and overtime barrier. (yet CMOs can agree to accept lower overtime payments if they believe overtime shifts are being directed towards 'cheaper' registrars.)

    3. A clear entitlement for 1.4 weeks [7 working days] 'Continuing Medical Education leave' per year + travel and expenses, for CME activities within Australia and selected courses in NZ run by the specialist colleges (such as EMST, APLS, etc).
      [At Sept 2005, CMOs are reporting that applications to attend interstate conferences, including reimbursement for course registration, air travel, meals and accommodation are being approved by their employers.] eg: CMOs working in Emergency Depts might like to consider attending the PHMEC conference in Canberra in late Sept 2005, or ACEM's conference in Melbourne, in Nov 2005.

    4. Four successive annual 4% pay increases backdated to begin from 1st July 2004.

    5. Marginal increases in on-call rates to increase with salary increases. (although effectively 'doubled' these remain minimal.)

    6. Small increase to in-charge rate. (also indexed to any % salary increases.)

    7. Transitional arrangements for existing CMOs with 7 or more years experience working for NSW public hospitals or facilities, that will allow them to automatically progress to reach the salary equivalent to Sen CMO Grade Yr 1.

      These transitional arrangements will provide for CMOs to annually progress through the following range of annual salaries (for a 38 hr week):
        Transitional Grade 1 = 111352 .. for CMOs currently on Grade 2 or Grade 3, Year 1
        Transitional Grade 2 = 121149 .. for CMOs currently on Grade 3, Year 2
        Transitional Grade 3 = 130446 .. for CMOs currently on Grade 3, Year 3 (has equivalent base annual salary to Senior CMO Yr 1)
      For example: an existing CMO 3.3 with 7 or more years service to NSW public hospitals or health facilities will have progressed from 116K per year to 130K per year from 20th Apr 2005.

    8. A centralised Grading Committee structure for processing all CMO applications for Senior CMO re-grading.

    9. Expires on 26th May 2008, when remaining issues (eg: further provisions for Continuing Medical Education and On-Call arrangements, etc) can be re-addressed. If NSW CMOs want further refinements to their Award, they will need to mobilise their union representatives well before this deadline.

Teething issues (updated 11th Sept 2005):
    There have been reports of CMOs experiencing difficulties during the translation process, such as:

      1. NSW Health accepts that not all CMOs have been informed of changes to the CMO Award. In particular it has been recognised that the 14th July 2005 deadline for Senior CMO applications to be retrospectively awarded from 20th Apr 2005 will need to be adjusted for these CMOs.

      2. Provisions of the new Award are not being interpreted correctly by their employers. eg: Some CMOs have not been translated correctly to Trans Grade status whilst others have been incorrectly awarded it. Some of these occurrences have since been rectified.

      3. Salary increases and backpay have been happening in a staggered manner that has not closely correlated with dates dictated by the new award. Any resultant backpay calculations have been further complicated by the fact that CMOs previously graded from 2.2 thru to 3.3, would have had the penalty, overtime and pub holiday loadings incorrectly applied from 20th Apr 2005 when all forms of the previous 'barrier' were supposed to be eliminated.

      4. Some CMOs recognise that they have received pay rises and backpay, but remain unaware of other entitlements such as the ability to apply for the Senior CMO Grade.

      5. A large number of CMOs also remain unaware that the new award provides a clear entitlement for 7 working days Education Leave per year, that includes reimbursement for all associated expenses including course registration, airfares and/or car travel, accommodation, meals, etc., for educational activities held throughout Australia and for limited courses in NZ. it has been suggested that CMOs should apply for leave using the forms used by Staff Specialists when applying for their (TESL) study leave.

    If you are experiencing difficulties you are welcome to contact the following union representatives and/or myself.
      - Sim Mead, Senior Industrial officer for Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation ph: 02 9212 6900
      - Glenn Tyrrell, Industrial officer for Health Services Union ph: 1800 631 505
      - David Brock, Industrial officer for ASCMO ph: 0412 065 775

Visit the following page to view salary scale and transitional arrangements at CMO salary scale
Some pages on this website require a usename/password combination only issued to members of ASCMO.
Click here to join ASCMO.

The new pay scale is effective from the beginning of the first pay period commencing on or after 20th April 2005. CMOs not covered by the transitional arrangements, that were being paid on the previous award will be translated to the appropriate step on the new scale, with backpay to be paid for the period 20 April 05 to the date of translation (26/5/05). Details of the translation to the new scale are contained in the Award. For more specific information about how these arrangements will affect you, contact the following union representatives: ASMOF [Sim Mead: 02 92126900] or HSU [Glenn Tyrrell: 1800 631 505]. Alternatively you can contact ASCMO [David Brock: 0412 065 775]

There are further 4% increases due in July 2005, July 2006 and July 2007.

All CMOs who believe that they meet the criteria are encouraged to apply for the new Senior CMO grade. We anticipate that there will be a large number of applicants and the unions (ASMOF predominantly) are working with the Department of Health to streamline the process. The Department is working on a circular that will explain the new Award and it is intended that the circular will include an application form for the Senior grade. It has been suggested that CMOs wait for a copy of the circular before applying.

ASMOF's Sim Mead is probably the best person to contact for specific advice. You can contact him on (02) 9212-6900 or by email: if you have any questions. He would probably prefer that you were a member of ASMOF.

I am happy to provide you with information as ASCMO's Industrial Officer and will be placing as much relevant information as I can on ASCMO's website.

Thanks for the support I have consistently received as ASCMO's industrial officer, from so many CMOs within and outside NSW. This 7 year journey has provided some rocky and uncertain terrain at times. I believe we now have a reasonable document that establishes us as a distinct entity within the medical workforce.

If you are wanting specific advice about these arrangements you should contact:
    - Sim Mead, Senior Industrial officer for ASMOF ph: 02 9212 6900
    - Glenn Tyrrell, Industrial officer for HSU ph: 1800 631 505
    - David Brock, Industrial officer for ASCMO ph: 0412 065 775

What's Next ?

The following information is provided for CMOs wishing to address any residual deficencies in the lead up to the new award's expiry in 3 years time (27th May 2008).

Anyone wanting to pursue this should examine the following two documents, as their lodgement before the NSW Industrial Commission on 7th Jan 2005, appeared critical to the department providing credible offers during the negotiation process. These documents were accompanied by a request for a 16% pay rise from 1st July 2004.
Commentary by David Brock, ASCMO's industrial officer 1998-2005 and a member of ASMOF/HSU's negotiating committee from 2001-2005 .

In my experience the Department did not wish to go to arbitration, yet had difficulty clearly negotiating its position, as it appeared to be micromanaged from 'above' by individuals reluctant to be more directly involved in any negotiation process. Every offer or 'negotiated' position had to be passed up, down and across within various hierarchies, in processes that took weeks or months or just fizzled out. The most common phrase we heard in 3 years of negotiation was "well get something back to you real soon".

Everything had to go back to treasury or the premier's department or wherever. It can be an extremely frightening bureaucracy. In hindsight arbitration might have been a lot quicker. Yet many experienced players reminded me that the arbitration commission can be 'somewhat like a lottery' where outcomes can be 'arbitary' and even dependent upon the personality of the commissioner hearing your case. A situation could easily arise where both parties might end up with arrangements that neither party really wants, therefore a negotiated settlement was always preferable although frequently unattainable unless all parties were prepared to constructively co-operate towards shared objectives. Mind you, our resolve was sorely tested when the department renegged on its own negotiated and agreed offer on 20th Apr 2005. Just about everyone held the view that negotiation with the department was impossible, except the few that realised these were just the final hard yards before we crossed the line.

During this negotiation process it became apparent that 'progress' was not possible unless there was an imminent threat of arbitration. Whenever negotiations stalled we had to re-start the arbitration process in order to get NSW Health's attention so that we could renew negotiations. Only after our comprehensive 7th Jan 2005 claim and submission were formally submitted inn Jan 2005, did we finally begin to see some realistic offers from NSW Health.

Unless there are clear benefits to all sides negotiations are likely to fail miserably. If you cannot see these benefits, its probably a lot quicker to stick to arbitration. In our case from 2001-2005, we recognised that the department needed to address the growing problem of its CMO award ceasing to be relevant to a market place where CMO positions were lying empty or being filled by Overseas Trained Doctors or Locum medical officers. The department was prepared to look at improving the CMO Award as a way to address its dependence upon expensive locums who were sometimes ill-equipped to do the job.

Also don't be put off from including clear entitlements when negotiating improvements to the award, as this can actually help employers to increase their budgets. For example I have already received acknowledgment from one employer that the clear entitlements in the new award for Cont Med Education will make it a lot easier for him to present arguments for greater budgetary support to ensure CMOs have access to relevant CME activities.

In order to assist anyone willing to take on the system, I intend to put a list of residual issues on this page at some stage in the near future.

(A copy of the original 2001 CMO Award claim document is available on this website by clicking here. NB: salary and allowance figures in this document are relative to Dec 2001 rates. Serial salary rises amounting to 12.5% have occurred since that date. (= 3% + 4% + 5%, up to 30 June 2004).

Click here for a copy of NSW CMO Award prior to Apr 2005


This page is designed for the sole use of medical practitioners
The information contained within has been provided in good faith.
However, it may contain opinions and errors in fact. Therefore all information is not to be relied upon by any party.
It is presented to stimulate debate amongst the medical profession only

page maintained by David Brock for ASCMO