‘Roster justice’ needed so workers can plan their lives

Media Release - March 27, 2024

The ACTU has used its reply submission on the work and care stream of the Fair Work Commission’s
Modern Awards Review 2023-24 to call for “roster justice” and to highlight the impact that unfair
rostering can have on workers. They hit out at the position adopted by employer organisations that
employers should have the unilateral right to vary work rosters with limited notice to workers.
Many workers lack control over their hours of work due to short notice changes to their rostered hours,
resulting in losses in pay and a worsened work-life balance, particularly for those with caring
responsibilities, who are mainly women.

These issues are compounded by limited access to affordable and quality early childhood education
and care; the impact of precarious, insecure, and casual work on low-paid and women workers; and the
use of unfair rostering which discriminates against workers with caring responsibilities and pregnant

In their submissions to the FWC, some employer groups have called for awards to be varied, to increase
“flexibility.” When employers use the term flexibility, they mean less security, predictability, and control
for working people. They seek ‘flexibilities’ that give employers ultimate scheduling control, while taking
away important protections, rights, and entitlements from workers, which undermines their job security.
These proposals would impact most on women workers and carers.

The ACTU is calling for a ‘right to say no’ to extra hours with protection from negative consequences, so
workers with caring responsibilities can be accommodated.

The ACTU also argues that any changes to regular rosters should involve the agreement of the workers
and inform workers on how those changes will affect their earnings. The ACTU argues that workers
should be able to bring rostering disputes to the Fair Work Commission.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil:

“Once again, we see proposals from employers that seek to take away workers’ rights and entitlements,
which will only serve to negatively impact women and carers in the workforce. If we are to tackle the
gender pay gap in Australia, we should be looking to remove barriers to work, not put up more

“Roster justice is an issue many working parents face when it comes to juggling work and family life.
Employer groups want to have the power to force workers to turn up at any point they want, regardless
of the disruption that causes to their lives.

“Last-minute changes to rostering discriminates against workers with caring responsibilities and freezes
them out of industries where that is common practice. There is a clear need for better rights for all
workers to secure, stable and meaningful rosters that accommodate caring responsibilities.

“When working parents lose out on hours of work and shifts, they lose out on valuable income. We need
to see genuine consultation with workers through their unions so working people have a level of
predictability about their hours and their pay, particularly if they are caring for loved ones.”

The ACTU Network

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