Q&A with Diane and Veronica

September 22, 2021 Know Your Rights News Our Resources

Each week, we respond to hundreds of phone calls and emails from concerned members over a wide range of issues. These questions include rostering, workers’ compensation, poor customer behaviour to the latest concerns over COVID. Some of our recent calls include the following questions:

Q. I work part-time as a nightfiller and my roster is 8.00pm to 12 midnight Tuesday to Friday. The other night I arrived at work 15 minutes early and my manager was happy for me to start 15 minutes early and knock off 15 minutes early. When I received my pay, I was docked 15 minutes. Is this correct?

A. In most Enterprise Agreements, rosters can be changed with less than 7 days notice provided that the change is by genuine mutual agreement. It is important, however, that when rosters are changed, the corresponding adjustment is notified to the appropriate pay office. It is also important that you contact your nightfill manager and ask her to make the appropriate adjustment. If you encounter further problems, call us again and we will pursue the matter together through the grievance procedure.

Q. A fellow SDA member’s Dad recently passed away. Our manager was good about it but suggested to my friend, Michael, that he take his leave as personal leave and not compassionate leave.

A. Frankly, your manager was not good about it. He took advantage of Michael’s lack of knowledge. He is entitled to paid compassionate leave as he is a permanent employee. When Michael returns to work, explain his rights to him and suggest he go and speak to the manager. Michael is entitled to compassionate leave and his personal leave must be reinstated. If Michael experiences further difficulties, ask him to contact the union office as he is an SDA member. Together, we will pursue the matter to the next stage of the grievance procedure.

Q. My manager tells me to come in early several times a week and then gets me to stay back after my shift. I don’t mind if I’m not too busy but I don’t get paid for the extra work. Now she expects me to stay back most of the time. What should I do?

A. I believe you know what you should do. The mere fact you emailed the union office tells us you know the answer. You have two choices. You either continue to say yes or you start standing up for yourself and say no. What it will be? Once you decide to say no, we can then talk about the payment for the extra hours worked.

Some questions we have recently answered for our CASUAL members:

Q. I am currently working on a casual basis at a supermarket while attending university full-time. During my semester break, I wished to take a week off work to recharge my batteries. However, after submitting my unavailability, I was told my request was denied because the company requires that I must be available for a minimum number of hours each week. If this is the case, does it mean that all casuals are never entitled to a week or more off?

A. Casual employees, by definition, work when hours become available and these hours can be worked by the casual employee. As such, casual employment is a two-way street. The employer has to offer hours and the casual employee has to be available to work those hours. Therefore, casual employees are able to take time off for a week or more. Of course, it is best to advise the company at the earliest possible time of your unavailability. Finally, enjoy your time and have some fun whilst you recharge your batteries.

Q. My friend works part-time and is earning less per hour than me. What is the difference between part-time and casual work?

A. Part-time employees are weekly employees and are entitled to guaranteed base hours, 4 weeks annual leave, 17.5% annual leave loading, personal leave which includes paid sick leave and carer’s leave etc.

On the other hand, casual employees receive a loaded rate of pay –i.e., they receive a casual loading for every hour worked. In the future, if you are ever offered part-time employment, you should give it serious consideration as the biggest attraction of part-time work is the guaranteed hours you receive each roster cycle.

Q. I am a casual and was recently ill. I did the right thing and rang work as I was physically unable to work my shift. During the phone conversation I was told that I needed to provide a medical certificate when I worked my next shift. Is this correct?

A. A casual employee’s rate of pay includes their casual loading. This loaded rate covers such entitlements as paid sick leave and annual leave. As a casual, you are not entitled to paid sick leave but you are still entitled to choose not to work if you are sick. Also, casual employees are NOT obliged or required to provide a medical certificate or other form of proof when they are ill.

Q. Last week, a casual staff member was injured at work and I overheard the store manager tell her that she was not entitled to claim workers’ compensation because she is a casual. Is this true?

A. Unfortunately, the manager’s advice was incorrect. All employees, whether they are full-time, part-time or casual are entitled to claim workers’ compensation.

Q. A work colleague told me that our company likes to employ casuals because they don’t have to pay long service leave. That sounds a bit unfair for the long term workers. Is this true?

A. Casual employees are entitled to paid long service leave.