What is roster justice, and why is it an important topic right now?
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > What is roster justice, and why is it an important topic right now?

What is roster justice, and why is it an important topic right now?

by Freya Lucas

November 16, 2022

Many early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals have had the experience of being asked to come into work on a day when they aren’t meant to be working, to change shifts at the last minute, or to stay longer than their allocated shift time to account for ratio requirements. 


This phenomenon is especially prevalent in professions such as ECEC and Aged Care, where sufficient staffing numbers are required to meet regulatory requirements and to keep vulnerable people safe. 


Australian Unions are looking more deeply into the consequences of shifting rosters, and the impact that they have on many workers, particularly those who are employed on a casual basis, and whose life plans and finances are at the whim of unpredictable scheduling.  


This can put a strain on working parents, for example, who require stable and predictable work patterns in order to also attend to their childcare responsibilities, and on those who have other caring responsibilities. 


It also exacerbates a pre-existing problem for insecure workers, an Australian Unions representative said, noting that “the unpredictability of the work means they are already living life in limbo.” 


“If you’re trying to keep as much of your schedule free as possible so you can pick up a shift when your boss calls last minute, that doesn’t bode well for your social life or family commitments.”


Working under those circumstances makes it “almost impossible” to commit to family or social events or form longer term relationships due to work-related uncertainty, the representative continued. 


Unions are proposing a solution to these issues with what they are calling ‘roster justice’. 


Recently Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke embraced a call to amend legislation to guarantee predictable and fair rosters.


Central to this support is the notion of “the right to disconnect” and a call from the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association for amendments to the Fair Work Act so that employers must implement rosters in ways that are “predictable and implement fixed times and days where practicable”.


More information about any changes to the Fair Work Act as it relates to casual ECEC employees will be shared as they come to hand. 

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