Overworked Employee Employment Lawyers

A ruling in a September Court case provides an example of what constitutes “reasonable additional hours”.

This case is useful in getting an understanding of what “reasonable additional hours” means. Notwithstanding the Law will change from 1 January 2010.

Note: If you are a national system employer, under current law you cannot ask your full-time employees to work unreasonable additional hours in excess of 38 a week.

From 1 January 2010, not only will you not be able to ask your full-time employees to work unreasonable additional hours, they will lawfully be able to refuse to work unreasonable additional hours.

McPherson was an electrical fitter working as part of a mine maintenance team. He brought a case against his employer, Coal & Allied, alleging they asked him to work “unreasonable additional hours”. This is what the Court case was about…

Until November 2008 McPherson worked a rotating three-week Monday to Friday roster, and averaged 40 hours work a week. In November 2008, Coal & Allied changed to a two-week cycle roster of four shifts – three 12 hours and one 8 hours – a total of 44 hours, Monday to Friday.

McPherson is married and has four children – two at school and two at university. He argued that the additional hours caused him to be unable to take his sons to soccer training, to be unable to coach their soccer team, to miss family mealtimes, and generally caused disruption to his family life.

In considering this case the Court indicated that the impact on McPherson’s family life of him working additional hours is a factor that must be taken into account when determining whether additional hours required to be worked in excess of 38 hours a week are reasonable.

However, the Court ruled that the benefits to Coal & Allied of the new roster outweighed the detriment to McPherson – the Court found that the work pattern allowance and extra RDOs arising out of the new roster adequately compensated McPherson and, in that circumstance, the extra rostered hours were deemed to be reasonable.


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