Daylight savings time comes to an end next week, and there is still confusion over paying staff that work through the “wind back”. This weeks HR Highlight will explore what daylight savings means to your business.

Daylight Savings

Daylight savings time applies to NSW, ACT, VIC, TAS and SA. Currently QLD, NT and WA do not observe daylight savings time. Daylight savings time comes to an end on the first Sunday in April. This year that is Sunday 7th April 2013. At 02:00 on Sunday morning the clocks will be wound back to read 01:00. The problem for businesses comes when calculating the payments for those staff working at the time of the wind back.

Staff working the night shift when the wind back happens will physically work for 60 minutes longer than the clock will show. So the question as to what number of hours to pay staff for is a legitimate one. Does the business pay for the total minutes at work, or for the hours as computed by taking the start time and finish time as per the clock?

Requirement v Common Practice

Under common law the business has to pay “by the clock”. That is if a shift starts at 00:00 and finishes at 04:00 then the employee is to be paid for 4 hours work, with no regard to the wind back. This is despite the fact that the worker has in fact been at work for 300 minutes or 5 hours.

While it is acceptable for the business to pursue a “by the clock” approach two things need to be considered; consistency and agreement/award provisions.

  • Consistency: If the business is going to pay “by the clock” at the termination of daylight savings time, then it also must pay “by the clock” at the commencement of daylight savings time.
  • Agreement/Award Provisions: Awards or Agreements may require a specific treatment for the payment of daylight savings shifts. The Awards in the downstream petroleum industry (the Road Transport and Distribution Award, the Vehicle Manufacturing , Repair, Services and Retail Award and the Clerks-Private Sector Award) either refer to “by the clock” or do not refer to daylight savings time at all. So “by the clock” is the standard.

However, common practice is to favour the employee and to pay for the actual time worked. So in the example above the employee would be paid for 300 minutes work or 5 hours. As with the other options consistency is key.

Communication

Whether the business is paying “by the clock” or for actual time worked the payment arrangements should be clearly communicated to staff before the day and employees given the opportunity to refuse to work the shift without penalty based on the treatment of the payment.

Here to Help

Through the festive season ACAPMA Workplace Relations Professionals are available to assist members on 1300 160 270 or you can email elishar@acapma.com.au. ACAPMA members can access resources and can call on the advice and support of the ACAPMAlliance Workplace Relations Professionals on 1300 160 270.

HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation by  calling 1300 160 270 and speaking to one of ACAPMA Workplace Relations Professionals its free for members. ACAPMA membership is affordable at only $550 per year for a single site and valuable with sites gaining HR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts. Click here to learn more about ACAPMA membership.

Elisha Radwanowski
BCom (HRM & IR)
Workplace Services

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