Roster justice needed so workers can plan their lives

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) used its reply submission on the work and care stream of the Fair Work Commission’s Modern Awards Review 2023-24 to call for roster justice and to highlight the impact that unfair rostering can have on workers.

The ACTU has hit out at the position adopted by employer organisations that employers should have the unilateral right to vary work rosters with limited notice to workers.

“Last-minute changes to rostering discriminate against workers with caring responsibilities and freezes them out of industries where that is common practice,” said ACTU President Michele O’Neil.

Many workers lacked control over their hours of work due to short notice changes to their rostered hours, resulting in losses in pay and a worsened work-life balance, particularly for those with caring responsibilities, who are mainly women, she said.

In their submissions to the FWC, some employer groups have called for awards to be varied, to increase flexibility.

“Employer groups want to have the power to force workers to turn up at any point they want, regardless of the disruption that causes to their lives,” said Ms O’Neil.

When employers used the term flexibility, they meant less security, predictability, and control for working people, Ms O’Neil said. “They seek ‘flexibilities’ that give employers ultimate scheduling control, while taking away important protections, rights, and entitlements from workers, which undermines their job security.”

“Once again, we see proposals from employers that seek to take away workers’ rights and entitlements, which will only serve to negatively impact women and carers in the workforce. If we are to tackle the gender pay gap in Australia, we should be looking to remove barriers to work, not put up more roadblocks.

The ACTU is calling for a ‘right to say no’ to extra hours with protection from negative consequences, so workers with caring responsibilities can be accommodated.

Unions also argue that any changes to regular rosters should involve the agreement of the workers and inform workers on how those changes will affect their earnings. In addition, workers should be able to bring rostering disputes to the Fair Work Commission.

“There is a clear need for better rights for all workers to secure, stable and meaningful rosters that accommodate caring responsibilities,” said Ms O’Neil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want more? Read the latest issue of ANMJ



Advertise with ANMJ

The ANMJ provides a range of advertising opportunities within our printed monthly journal and via our digital platforms.