This week’s HR Highlight will explore the often confusing, always frustrating, area of shiftwork.  Defining whether drivers in the fuel industry are in fact working a roster or are shiftworkers often causes managers to rip their hair out.  It is often difficult for businesses in our industry to establish if their drivers are in fact shiftworkers.  Once established that an employee is a shiftworker the analysis is not complete, we need to understand what type of shiftworker they are and if there are any benefits that stem from that classification and ensure that they are applied correctly.

The Employment Instrument

The first step as always is to look at the employment instrument.  Where there is an enterprise agreement or individual contract that is the first place to look for a classification as a shiftworker.

If the term shiftworker is not specifically addressed the classification search turns to the relevant Award, in the case of dangerous goods driver the Award is the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010.

Under the Award there are several ways that oil distribution workers, or fuel dangerous goods drivers can be engaged and work a roster.

Ordinary Hours

In order to understand if our workers are shiftworkers we need to first understand the ordinary hours that apply to them, as shiftwork only applies when ordinary hours start or finish at a certain time.

Under the Award Clause 23 deals with ordinary hours for oil distribution workers and states that ordinary hours will be 35 hours per week or 70 hours per two week period. Clause 23.4 goes further to allow rural distribution operations to roster the ordinary hours over three consecutive days from Monday to Sunday, with any additional hours attracting overtime.  Ordinary hours start times of ‘not before 06:30’ can be modified, and are often modified, through the use of the faciliatative provisions.


Clause 24 deals with the definition of shiftwork, outlining that it means ordinary hours work extending for at least two weeks and performed between 18:30 and 08:30 but does not include day work commencing after 05:30.  Specifically Afternoon Shiftworkers are those that finish their ordinary hours between 18:30 and 12:30, and Night Shiftworkers are those that finish their ordinary hours between 12:30 and 08:30.

Typically this clause, taken with 23.4, identifies many rural fuel distribution workers as not being shiftworkers.

It is important to note that the shiftwork classification applies to the ordinary hours of commencement and completion, it does not include overtime.  So a trip that has a driver complete ordinary hours at 17:30 then complete three hours of overtime is not considered to be shiftwork under this definition.

However, if drivers are classified as shiftworkers there are allowances that need to be addressed.  Afternoon shift workers and Night shift workers receive allowances on ordinary time and further loadings on overtime and weekends, and treatment of public holidays and meal breaks as at Clause 24.

Further, if a shiftworker is classified as a 7-day shiftworker, that is that they work are regularly rostered on a Sunday or public holiday they are entitled to an additional week annual leave or for those workers who are classed as 7-day shiftworkers for part of the year their annual leave is increased at a rate of half a day per month working under a 7 day roster  under 29.1.  Further shiftworkers who would have worked shiftwork had they not been on annual leave are also entitled to either the 17.5% leave loading or the shiftwork loading including weekend penalties, whichever is the higher.


It is important to follow the steps in application. First, look at the hours to establish if they are shiftworkers at all, then to determine f they are 7-day shiftworkers before you can address the question of the extra week’s leave.

  1. Is the employee a shiftworker?  Do their ordinary hours finish in the 18:30-12:30 or 12:30-08:30 bracket?, If the answer is no then the employee not a shiftworker.   If the answer is yes then the employee is a shiftworker and we need to proceed to to question 2  (clause 24)
  2. Is the employee a 7-day shiftworker? Do their ordinary hours regularly include Sundays and public holidays?  If the answer is no then the employee is not a seven day shiftworker, so apply standard applicable afternoon or night shift loading, and applicable penalties.   If the answer is yes then the employee is a 7-day shiftworker so add annual leave entitlements (clause 29)

Here to Help

Navigating shiftwork definitions, and then applying the correct allowances, loadings, penalties and entitlements can be confusing and frustrating.  ACAPMA Members are reminded that they can seek advice and support from the Workplace Relations Professionals on shiftwork definitions and application by calling 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 specific situation by calling 1300 160 270 and speaking to on the of the ACAPMA Workplace Relations Professionals – it’s free for members.  ACAPMA Membership is affordable at only $770 per year for a single site, which represents great value with sites gaining employment advice, support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts.  Learn more about ACAPMA Membership here.