Have opening restrictions, disease control measures and just the weirdness that is 2020 played havoc with your rosters? There are four things you must keep in mind when changing your rosters or ‘ordinary hours of work’ for permanent employees:

Talk to your permanent employees first

The purpose of a roster is to show the days and times employees are required to work. If you wish to change your employee’s regular roster or ordinary hours of work, the Modern Award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement that governs how you employ your workers, requires you to consult with your employees first. [1] Why? Because it is important that employers provide a proper balance for a person between their work and non-work commitments and obligations. This balance will minimise harm and the likelihood of error.

What you must tell your permanent employees

As a minimum, employers must:

  • Provide permanent employees with information about the proposed changes to the roster or ordinary hours of work;
  • Invite employees to give their views about the impact of the change, including any impact in relation to their family or caring responsibilities; and
  • Consider these views about the impact of the change that are given by the employees.

As an employer, you do not need to accept and act on any objections to the proposed change, but you should evidence (preferably document), that you have taken into account those objections or views.

Be aware that Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements may set out additional requirements about changing rosters and how and when employees are given rosters.

You may want to record this consultation process using an online ‘survey’ service, like Survey Monkey, Microsoft Surveys, etc.

If you are not sure about which Award(s) applies to your workplace, please call us on (02) 9199 8597.

How much notice do you need to give about a change in roster?

Typically, you must give employees at least seven days’ notice of a roster change. If they disagree with the change, the issue should be dealt with through a proper grievance procedure.

If you do not have a grievance procedure policy in your workplace, please call us on (02) 9199 8597.

Bear in mind, most Agreements and Awards provide that:

  • Permanent employees will be given a regular roster which shall not be subject to frequent variation; and
  • Rosters cannot be altered with the intent of avoiding payments or benefits applicable under the Agreement or Award.

Policies and Procedures

We recommend that employers document their policies and procedures about how they will implement and change rosters. Your policies and procedures should cover such topics as:

  • When new rosters will be published;
  • How long a roster will run for;
  • Where the roster will be located;
  • How the roster can be checked by workers;
  • The timeframe in which time-off or holiday requests must be made;
  • How requests to changing a shift can be made.

When modifying rosters, your policies and procedures may also require you to:

  • Conduct a fatigue risk assessment;
  • Consider the effects of psychosocial hazards (including, stress, burn out, extreme environmental conditions and the implications of remote or isolated work) to workers and their families;
  • Use your change management processes
  • Assess the impact of proposed roster changes on incident risk; and
  • Consult relevant guidance and codes of practice.

If you do not have a rostering policy in your workplace, please call us on (02) 9199 8597.

How we can help

JFM Lawyers helps employers create the optimal working environment for their workers, and to minimise the incidents of breaches of Fair Work legislation, Modern Awards and other agreements.

Call us on (02) 9199 8597 for workplace policies and procedures that will ensure you are compliant with your legal requirements and promote a happy workplace.

[1] Section 145A