Home Alone: Who’s looking after the children?

December 13, 2021 Know Your Rights Newsletters

By Naomi McQuire,

SDA Organiser

Who is minding the children? That’s the dilemma many SDA members are confronting on a daily basis. In today’s world, more and more families are only surviving financially if both parents are working in the paid workforce. Parents continually juggle their parental and financial responsibilities the best way they can and sometimes these demands conflict with each other.

A recent example

In August, a distressed member rang the Union office because her manager had given her a roster change which included Sunday work. Also, her husband was working in an occupation which required Sunday work (which the member’s company knew about). The couple had recently moved to a new suburb and had no family or friends to look after their children. The proposed roster change meant their twin girls aged 6 would have to look after themselves for seven hours on a Sunday.

Unbeknown to the member, her Enterprise Agreement contained a family-friendly provision which required the employer to have regard for the family responsibilities of the employee when establishing or changing a roster.
The SDA is very aware of how parental responsibilities impact upon our members. Equally, we are aware that some site managers are poorly trained in the finer details of the respective Enterprise Agreements.

SDA involvement

After listening to the member, we advised her of her entitlements contained in her Enterprise Agreement. Unfortunately, her workplace did not have a trained Shop Steward and consequently, the members were not aware of the many benefits contained in the Agreement.
The member wasn’t confident enough to go and see the manager by herself. As a result, the SDA Organiser became involved and made an appointment to see the manager. The member, SDA Organiser, Store and Assistant Manager had a meeting and were able to sort out the issue to everyone’s satisfaction. The member has a new roster which involves Thursday work after 6pm. This suits her family responsibilities as her husband is able to look after the girls.
This issue highlights the importance of the SDA having the foresight to negotiate these family-friendly provisions into our Enterprise Agreements in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

Happy ending

Mum and Dad are very happy with the outcome. They did not want to be forced into the sitduation where their girls were home alone. Our member is very glad she is an SDA member and has encouraged the non-members in her store to join the Union.
By the way, our member’s husband has joined his Union!