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Home > News > 2018 > February > Can you be made to attend work outside normal hours?

Can you be made to attend work outside normal hours?

time.pngRegular activities that occur in schools such as camps, parent teacher nights and formal celebrations ofter have already established provisions for staff attendance. However, members in schools need to be aware of their rights if an unexpected event arises and the employer wants staff to attend.

Many employees in non-government schools are covered by collective agreements that have specific provisions around hours of duty and what can be required of employees. Any event which falls within the hours of duty can be directed.

However, if an employer advises an employee to attend an event that falls outside the hours of duty arrangements, the employer is required to consider the effect of this request on the employees’ personal, medical, family, cultural or other circumstances that would prevent them from being able to attend.

The employer is also required to provide an employee with an opportunity to explain any of these circumstances, otherwise it could be seen as an unreasonable request of the employer.

Members are encouraged to check their school’s collective agreement to ascertain what provisions are available in relation to work that occurs outside normal hours. 

Costs of travel and accommodation

Where an employer directs an employee to attend an event, in the absence of any other agreement, all required costs associated with travel and accommodation are to be paid for by the employer.

If attendance at an event is initiated by an employee, or if attendance at the event is voluntary in nature, there is likely to be some level of negotiation around who pays.

Where there is any agreement on sharing costs, there should be a clear, written understanding of all the obligations, financial and otherwise, as agreed to prior to booking or paying for the event and associated costs. Risk assessments and risk management

An employer is responsible for ensuring adequate risk assessments are carried out prior to the approval of any activity.

Who actually does this will depend on the event and who the participants are.

If it is a staff-only event, it is likely to be up to the delegated organisers to ensure the appropriate risk assessments are carried out.

In respect of events involving students, whoever is delegated the task of organising the event is likely to be expected to carry out the appropriate risk assessment.

Regardless of who carries out these assessments, all staff should ensure this has been done so that they can have trust that the appropriate general health and safety considerations have been taken into consideration. This would also permit other risks that may not have been foreseen by the organisers to be identified as well.

In addition, the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 covers members for any injuries that occur while away from the workplace and while engaged in an activity in the course of your employment.

Being paid for overtime

A majority of collective agreements have provisions concerning the compensation of overtime for employees either in money or time when an employee is directed to attend events outside of their hours of duty.

If the agreement has no provision for this, it should be negotiated with the employer prior to participating in the event so the obligations of all parties are clear.

Members should ensure any agreement reached in relation to the compensation of overtime be made in writing from their employer.

When it comes to attending events outside of normal hours, there is a clear benefit in negotiating provisions in a collective bargaining agreement to ensure consideration is given to members who undertake these tasks. Please contact our union’s Members Services team for assistance on FREECALL 1800 177 938.

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.