Member input needed: how should NSWA ‘balance’ annual leave credits/debits?

  • Published April 6, 2021
  • Industries

ADHSU has intervened in an ongoing IRC process about whether or not staff should receive overtime
payments on those occasions where they take annual leave and return on a different line. As you all know, sometimes a line change after Annual Leave will lead to the staff member working more hours than they should over the roster cycle, e.g. more than 342 hours for the standard nine-line 4x5 when you count projected roster hours for the block of annual leave. This is also known as an ‘unders and overs’ dispute.

The status quo
The status quo in NSWA is that the employer allows workers to maximise flexibility, and to enhance work/life balance, by requesting line changes around annual leave time. NSWA often provides that flexibility and allows line changes so long as it doesn’t adversely affect service delivery. Another factor in agreeing to the change is that the change doesn’t lead to significant ‘unders or overs’, but if it does, the employer errs on the side of the employee.

The benefit to employees is flexibility at the risk of occasionally coming back from leave and working more than the hours over the cycle than they are getting paid. Many shift workers know that despite these occasions where they work more hours, on most other occasions over their career they will be better off, that is they end up working less hours than they are getting paid. This is commonly referred to as ‘swings and round abouts’.

The alternative
The current recommendation of the IRC is that workers should be paid overtime on those occasions they work more hours than they are ordinarily paid, e.g., hours worked more than 342 over 9 lines for the 4x5 will be paid as overtime.

This is seductive and in theory legally appropriate. However, when faced with this situation, employers always respond by removing flexibility and going to actuals because they are going to do everything possible to avoid having to pay overtime.

NSWA has indicated that in future it will roster actuals by removing station officer’s ability to adjust rosters and that any unders and overs will be paid back with either days off in the case of hours owed to the employee, or extra shifts in the case that hours are owed to the employer.

If the staff member comes back owing 6.25 hours, then the staff member will have to come in on what should have been a day off to pay it back. Conversely, the employee gets half a day off if they are owed hours.

Please vote in this simple one question survey now to provide direction to ADHSU delegates on this difficult question. Survey here:

In unity,
Gerard Hayes
Secretary, HSU NSW/ACT/QLD