Among the recent changes to modern awards was the broadening of the consultation clauses. The obligation to consult with employees regarding major workplace change remains unchanged; however, from 1 January 2014, there is now an additional obligation for employers to consult about changes to rosters or hours of work.  Understanding this change and making necessary changes to the business processes is essential to ensure compliance in this area.

The requirements under the Award

The new requirements outline that where an employer proposes to change an employee’s regular roster or ordinary hours of work, the employer must consult with the employee or employees affected and their representatives (if any) about the proposed change(s) in the following way:

  • Provide any information about the proposed chage to the employee or employees affected and their representatives, if any. For example, information about the nature of the change to the employee’s regular roster or ordinary hours of work and when that change may be implemented;
  • Invite the employee or employees affected and their representatives to give their views about the impact of the proposed change (including any impact in relation to their family or caring responsibilities;  and
  • Give consideration to these views.

Importantly, the requirement to consult under this clause does not apply where an employee has irregular, sporadic or unpredictable working hours. Further, these provisions are to be read in conjunction with other award provisions concerning the scheduling of work and notice requirements.

In terms of the three basic modern awards covering ACAPMA members, this broadening of the consultation clause affects Clause 8 in both the Clerks Private Sector Award 2010 and the Vehicle Manufacturing,  Repair, Services and Retail Award 2010; and Clause 9 of the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010.

All modern awards have been varied to incorporate this new provision on and from 1 January 2014.

Enterprise Agreements also affected

These new rostering protections apply also to all enterprise agreements made on or after 1 January 2014 and must be included in the document.  If a dedicated clause is not incorporated then the model clause will be the default clause in any enterprise agreement involved.

Changes apply to all employees casual and permanent

Employers need to be aware that these protections will apply to permanent employees and casual employees whose working arrangements are on a regular and systematic basis, raher than irregular, sporadic or unpredictable working hours.

Here to help

These new requirements will have an impact on most workplaces. While consultation does not require an employer to agree with the affected employees, the consultation much be genuine.

Failure to comply with the new requirements will be a breach of the modern award or enterprise agreement and potentially expose an employer to penalties under the legislation.

Awareness of obligations is the key and meaningful consultation essential.

ACAPMA members are reminded that ACAPMAlliance has a series of resources from Quick Reference Guides to template letters and investigation and reporting checklists that can assist with ensuring compliant and consistent responses in this area, 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.  Click here to apply for  ACAPMA Membership.