Some of you have questions about what the ‘health standards for operational personnel’ mentioned in the new legislation might mean for you.
The short answer is we don’t know yet - there are many questions to be consulted on before any decisions can be made.
But this is what we are planning to make sure we do this in the right way:
- the Fire and Emergency NZ Board has asked for recommendations on the design and development of health standards by July 2018
- this work will be done in close consultation with the Unions and Associations that represent Fire and Emergency NZ personnel
- a Working Party is being formed - including senior representatives from the five Unions and Associations and senior operational managers
- the Working Party has had an initial meeting where they agreed that health standards will include physical health, physical fitness and psychological health – in line with critical operational risks related to physical safety, work-related health and psychological wellbeing
- the main focus of this work will be to maintain people in their operational roles – career and volunteer - wherever possible
- a range of support options will be looked at where work-related health and wellbeing risks are detected early
- timing of any further work will be considered by the Board following their review of the Working Party recommendations
Derek Best and Peter Nicolle are working closely on the health standards with Alison Barnes, Integration Project, Safety, Health and Wellbeing Lead, and the wider Working Party.
In the meantime, while this work is being undertaken, nothing will change.
The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 - Sections 31 to 35 - enables the Board to prescribe physical and psychological health standards for operational personnel to ensure they are able to undertake duties that may be required of them without undue risk to their safety, health and wellbeing. The Act also says that the design and development of health standards needs to involve consultation with Unions and Associations that represent operational personnel.
The five Unions and Associations representing Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel are:
- New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union
- Fire and Rescue Commanders Association
- United Fire Brigades Association
- Public Service Association
- Forest and Rural Fire Association of New Zealand
FURTHER TO THE JOINT STATEMENT THE UNION ADVISES
To expand on what the statement ‘In the meantime, while this work is being undertaken nothing will change.’
The Union has got agreement from FENZ that until any Health Standards are agreed.
- Present processes as previously (not initially through a Personal Grievance).
- The Suspension on LWOP will not occur. Persons will remain on pay in the event of an appeal.
The Union sees this a very satisfactory win.