The Victorian Ambulance Union Incorporated (VAU) has received inquiries from some National Patient Transport (NPT) members asking how the ‘built-in’ overtime is paid under the new Enterprise Agreement (EA).

For the benefit of some members who may not yet be familiar with the new Enterprise Agreement, one of the changes relates to meal breaks. Under the new agreement, meal breaks count as time worked. Previously they did not count as time worked, even though they were paid at single time.

Under the new EA, a full-time fortnight on the roster is made up of 8 x 10-hour shifts. This adds up to 80 hours for the fortnight. Full time staff are employed for 76 hours per fortnight, with all time in excess of those hours being paid at overtime rates. This means that, for a full-time employee, 4 hours of their roster, per fortnight, will be ‘built-in’ overtime. Previously, all 80 hours were paid as ordinary, or single, time.

How is rostered overtime applied?

It can be somewhat confusing, but the relevant part of the wording in the EA, in regard to overtime, is reprinted below in italics. The underlined passages are the important sections.

c) The following overtime rates shall be paid for all work done:

  • (i) time and a half for the first two hours and double time thereafter; for any work exceeding the number of hours fixed as a day’s, week’s, or fortnight’s work;
  • (ii) double time for overtime work on Saturdays and Sundays;
  • (iii) all time in excess of a rostered day on a public holiday, will be paid at double time and a half; and,
  • (iv) double time for work outside a spread of 12 hours from the commencement of the last previous rostered period of duty, provided that the overtime is not continuous with the next succeeding rostered period of duty.

What this means for members, is that the overtime ‘built-in’ to the 80 hr per fortnight roster, can be applied daily, weekly or fortnightly. NPT have chosen to apply it fortnightly, to the last 4 hours of the 8th shift for the fortnight, which is consistent with the wording of the EA. Part time and casual members are still covered by the existing overtime clause in line with the above excerpt.

What happened to my penalty?

Some members have contacted the VAU concerned that they have lost their penalties applicable to that last 4 hours of the fortnight. It is true that, when on overtime, you do not receive shift, weekend or public holiday penalties. The EA compensates for this by providing for higher overtime payments on weekends and public holidays – double time on weekends and double time and a half for public holidays. This provision applies to all overtime including ‘built-in’ overtime as described above.

It is important that members note that, if the ‘built-in’ overtime were applied on a daily basis instead of fortnightly, the result would be much the same. The main difference is that it is much more noticeable when looking at a payslip and seeing a loss of penalties applicable to a 4-hour block of time. If the overtime were applied per shift, the loss of penalties would appear in half hour blocks throughout the fortnight and might be overlooked. The end result is the same, however.

When the last shift of the fortnight is on a weekend, the weekend penalty, applicable to the overtime component of that shift (4 hours) is not paid. While this seems like a big loss, the 4 hours of overtime is paid at double time (being a weekend) instead of the time and a half that would apply during the week. As a result, there is no net loss to the employee because the extra half-time paid on weekend overtime makes up for the loss of the weekend penalty.

Banked Leave option for the rostered overtime.

Some members may not be aware of the other option in regard to the extra 4 hours per fortnight. Members can elect to not receive overtime for the extra 4 hours per fortnight, and instead take it as time in lieu. By doing this, members will receive approximately 10 days of extra leave per year called ‘Banked leave’. The VAU recommend that members read Clause 25 of the new EA to acquaint themselves with the details, but essentially it works as follows:

  • Once per year (only), a member can nominate to have their 4 hours per fortnight paid as time in lieu (Banked Leave) instead of being paid overtime.
  • The time is paid at single time.
  • It is accrued from fortnight to fortnight and will be displayed on payslips as ‘banked leave hours.’
  • The Banked Leave can be taken at a mutually agreed time. NPT will not unreasonably refuse a request for Banked Leave.
  • Minimum time off under this clause is one day (9.5 hrs).
  • Minimum of 7 days’ notice of intention to take a single day of Banked Leave.
  • Banked Leave can be used on a short notice basis (if personal leave has been used up – conditions apply).

It is important that members understand that Banked Leave is an option available to them, that provides extra time off each year as well as some flexibility in respect of occasional short notice days off. This will suit some members but others will choose the overtime option. The default position, under the EA, is that overtime will be paid to all permanent staff unless they have specifically asked for the Banked Leave option.

If any member is unsure of their options or needs further explanation, please contact your organisers:

Bruce Fine: [email protected]   0480 194 711  or

Kerry McLean: [email protected]   0480 194 783

In solidarity