Write it down

July 27, 2020 Newsletters

By Naomi McQuire, SDA Organiser

On a recent visit to one of my stores, I was approached by several young casual members wanting advice on several issues. These issues ranged from enquiries on their rights right up to complicated workplace bullying cases.
I asked these members a series of questions wanting more detail of those important issues but was disappointed to learn that only one member had any specific documentation. As a result, their recollection of the incidents was very vague.


Arguing about tea breaks is far easier than workplace bullying. Pursuing both issues through the grievance procedure is very important but it would be fair to say that the arguments over bullying require far more consideration. You need facts, facts and more facts and those facts need to be recorded. It is extremely difficult to pursue a workplace bullying case through the grievance procedure without recorded notes.

What to do!

Documenting evidence is just writing details down, whether it is in a work diary, exercise book or the home computer. This serves not only as a helpful tool for your memory but it can be used as evidence if the matter is escalated through the grievance procedure.


John has just started work at a major retailer. He is a casual employee but is being paid at the part-time rate. As John is a new employee and currently still in his probationary period, he does not want to ‘rock the boat’ about his pay and risk losing his job. What should John do?
For a start, John is an SDA member as he joined the union after he received the information from his Shop Steward. As you can see, John is a very smart young man!

Given that John does not want to take up the issues until his probation period is over, I advised John to write down all the hours he is rostered, any extra time he works on top of his roster and also to keep all his pay records. Then when his probation period is over, we can take up a backpay claim to get John the money he is owed from all the weeks of incorrect pay. We can only do this if John documents all the hours he has worked.

So no matter if you have problems with your pay, bullying at work, unsafe work conditions or problems with rosters, write down all the details you can and then speak with your Shop Steward or contact the union office. Not only will this help you clarify what the problems are, but it provides valuable evidence for the Shop Steward when they help you resolve these problems. So remember…. Write it down!

Naomi’s Advice

Given the recent history of underpayments in the retail industry, get yourself a diary or establish a spreadsheet and record your rostered hours, and then write down any extra hours you have worked each week. Purchase a big enough diary so if you do have any incidents at work so you can write them in the day that they occurred creating a very specific and detailed workbook. It is always best to keep all pay records whether electronic or not. Check your pay record each pay period and keep them electronically or in paper form. This does not take long and you will be organised and ready with accurate details if and when problems arise.