Understanding overtime in the case of dual roles

It is crucial that employers understand how and where overtime payments may be required to ensure compliance with relevant industrial instruments.
Understanding overtime in the case of dual roles

Understanding how to navigate overtime becomes more complex in cases where employees are engaged in a dual role, particularly under two distinct employment contracts. This article identifies where dual roles might exist and how to best manage the provision of work for employees engaged in this way.

In the decision of Lacson v Australia Post Corporation [2019] FCA 51, Federal Circuit Court of Australia ruled that a part-time employee working two jobs for the same employer was not entitled to overtime based on the combined hours of work in both roles. Justice McNab assessed the “separate and distinct” nature of the two roles and the contracts of employment related to those roles. This decision involved an employee working for Australia Post, where the following factors were considered:

  • The employee performed work in two different jobs at two different Australia Post locations.
  • The jobs were obtained at different times.
  • The employee had separate employee ID or personnel numbers for each job.
  • The duties performed in each position were different.
  • The employee received different rates of pay depending on the job performed at any given time.

This ruling brought to light critical points for employers to consider, particularly in industries where staff are often engaged in multiple roles. In the aged care industry, for example, it is common for employees to perform various roles within a facility or across different facilities. Care service employees might also handle administration, maintenance, or kitchen duties on weekends, or lifestyle/recreation officers might also work as care service employees. Employers must consider whether these roles are “separate and distinct” and if overtime and other entitlements should be based on aggregated hours of work.

If the factors outlined in the court decision are not present, the situation may become less clear. Employers should seek professional advice to determine whether the roles satisfy the criteria for being considered separate jobs.

In addition to the legal considerations of overtime entitlements, fatigue management is key consideration that employers must acknowledge when engaging employees in dual roles. Balancing multiple responsibilities can lead to increased fatigue, which can impact job performance, safety, and overall well-being.

To ensure effective fatigue management strategies are in place, employers may consider ensuring that work schedules provide adequate rest periods between shifts, and regularly assess the workload of employees in dual roles to prevent burnout. Consider rotating duties to distribute tasks more evenly between employees. Finally, employers should establish support systems such as employee assistance programs to help staff manage stress and fatigue.

By addressing both the legal aspects of overtime entitlements and the practical concerns of fatigue management, employers can create a safer, more productive work environment for employees engaged in dual roles.

If any of the information in this article has raised questions or concerns or you have another workplace matter you need assistance with, please reach out to our experts here.

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