A separate application seeking to vary the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (SCHADS Award) is currently being considered by the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

On 6 April 2020, an employee covered by the SCHADS Award made an application to the FWC seeking to vary clause 25.3 of the SCHADS Award concerning rostered days off. The application proposes a variation to clause 25.3 of the SCHADS Award on the basis that the current clause does not fairly deal with night shifts or sleepovers.

Clause 25.3 of the SCHADS Award currently provides:

Employees, other than a casual employee, will be free from duty for not less than two full days in each week or four full days in each fortnight or eight full days in each 28 day cycle. Where practicable, days off will be consecutive.

The Applicant argues that rostered time off after sleepovers and night shifts should constitute “48 hours free from duty” as opposed to “two full [calendar] days”. The Applicant has submitted that the current requirement, that employees must have full days off work, applies unfairly to employees performing sleepovers and night shifts because it precludes them from being able to work for more than two calendar days at a time.

Ai Group is representing Members’ interests in the case and has to date appeared in a Conference and Hearing held before the FWC.

Following the Hearing, the employer organisations appearing in the proceedings (including Ai Group) and the Applicant have submitted that clause 25.3 of the SCHADS Award should be replaced with the following:

25.3 – Rostered Time Free From Duty

(a)    Subject to clause 25.3(b), employees, other than casual employees, will be free from duty for not less than two full days in each week or four full days in each fortnight or eight full days in each 28 day cycle. Where practicable, days off will be consecutive.

(b)    Where the time free from duty is rostered to immediately follow a night shift or the performance of a sleepover, for the purposes of clause 25.3(a), ‘day’ shall mean a 24 hour period.

The amendment is designed to address the concern raised by the Applicant and provide employers with additional flexibility when rostering employees who perform night shifts and sleepovers. The proposed clause would require that if an employee is afforded rostered days off after working a sleepover or night shift, a “day” off will constitute a 24 hour period, rather than a calendar day.

On 10 December 2021, the Australian Services Union, the Health Services Union and the United Workers Union filed joint submissions objecting to the proposed clause.

The FWC has indicated that it will inform the parties of how the matter is to progress shortly. We will provide a further update to Members in due course.

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