Are you considering changing your staffing arrangements to accommodate the COVID-19 vaccine rollout? We’re here to answer all your rostering questions.
Our Workplace Relations Team has been very busy recently responding to enquiries from private practices about staffing arrangements in light of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Whether you are currently operating extended hours, planning for a busy period ahead or just want to find out more, we encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have about rostering for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
There is a lot to think about – staffing up, staffing down, variations to contracted hours, paying penalty rates, working on Saturdays, part time employees working extra hours, and more. If these matters sound complex or stressful, contact us – we can help!
Here are a couple of our most frequently asked questions.
Q: My practice is expecting an increase in phone calls and I would like my part time receptionist to work an extra day. How do I go about doing this?
A: Your receptionist has a contract of employment with your practice, whether this is in writing or not. Hours of work are a term of the contract and parties to a contract cannot change terms of a contract unilaterally. Any changes must be agreed between the parties.
In accordance with your modern award obligations, you are required to consult with your receptionist and any representative she may have about your proposal to increase her hours of work by an extra day. You should provide your receptionist with information about the proposed change (i.e. the additional hours, day of the week, starting and finishing times and when the extra day is to begin) and invite her views about the impact of the change, including on family or caring responsibilities.
When asking your receptionist to agree to your proposal, it may be helpful to be as open and transparent as possible. Your receptionist will be more likely to agree to the extra day if she has some background and context around the proposal and understands the need for change.
If your receptionist agrees to increase her part time hours, you are required by the modern award to record this agreement in writing. This is also sensible from a contractual perspective. You should agree with your receptionist on an hours of work variation in writing, recording the revised agreement on hours of work, days and starting and finishing times. If you do not agree on an hours of work variation in writing, this may impact on your liability to pay overtime rates to your receptionist for any hours worked in excess of their ordinary hours.
If your receptionist does not agree to an increase in part time hours, you cannot force her to work the extra day and you will need to look at other resourcing arrangements.
Q: My practice is preparing to staff up for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. We are planning to put on additional staff as soon as we are given notice of increased vaccine supply. Should we employ them as part time or casual staff?
A: The decision to employ practice staff on a part time or casual basis should really depend on the needs of your practice. In making this decision, it is helpful to understand the nature of part time and casual employment.
A part time employee works less than an average of 38 hours per week and has reasonably predictable hours of work. Part time employees are entitled to paid leave, including annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave and payment for public holidays. They are also usually entitled to notice of termination, or payment in lieu of notice. A part time employee can be employed on a permanent or temporary basis.
A casual employee knows that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work. Their hours of work may be irregular, unpredictable or intermittent. A casual employee’s roster can change each week to suit the needs of the practice and they can refuse or swap shifts, including at short notice. Casual employees are paid a 25% casual loading, paid in lieu of paid leave and other permanent entitlements.
At present, there is a lot of uncertainty over Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. If flexibility is key to your vaccine rollout, casual employment will allow you to roster your staff on an as needed basis. However, there is a higher rate of pay and the risk that your casual staff may cancel their shifts at short notice. If reliability is key to your vaccine rollout, part time employment will provide you with predictability and certainty in rostering and staffing arrangements at a lower rate of pay. However, it is often hard to increase or decrease hours of work to suit the needs of your practice, unless the employee agrees, and you may find yourself overstaffed.
Ask us! We can help.
If you have any other questions about rostering or staffing arrangements or wish to discuss the circumstances at your practice, including penalty rates and weekend work, please contact our Workplace Relations Team.
Need help? Please contact our Workplace Relations Team on 02 9439 8822 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org