The Victorian Ambulance Union Incorporated (VAU) has had success at the Fair Work Commission (FWC) with two recent Agreement disputes. Two of our members are to be commended on their resilience, determination, and professionalism with bringing their matters forward.

AV attempt to change permanent part time hours of employee without mutual agreement

The first case involved a member who has been working as a part time Patient Transfer Officer at Adult Retrieval Victoria (ARV) within Ambulance Victoria. As part of his employment contract he only worked day and afternoon shifts. AV, due to additional funding, transitioned to a 24-hour operation within this part of their business and proposed to move affected employees to a roster configuration of two 12-hour shifts, which now included night shifts. The Member did not agree to working night shifts due to his family and personal circumstances, and because the Agreement does not allow for AV to change a part-time employee’s roster without their consent. AV maintained that it was entitled to require the member to do so, subject to notice and consultation obligations. After the VAU assisted the member through the grievance process internally there was no resolution, and the matter was heard before Deputy President O’Neill on 12 December 2022.

The dispute in question was whether AV could amend the member’s permanent part time start and finish time under clause 43.2 of the Agreement by giving 28 days’ notice to and with consultation, without first obtaining the members’ mutual agreement to do so under clause 18.4 of the Agreement.

The Commission found in favour of our member and his permanent part time hours were maintained. The Commission found that AV cannot simply alter a part-time employee’s start and finish time without obtaining mutual agreement of the employee.

AV reject FWA application including shorter night shift

In the second case, AV rejected an application for a flexible working arrangement by a paramedic in the Hume region. The paramedic had asked to work a shorter night shift in order to accommodate her caring responsibilities. She was not able to work a full night shift but could work from 9pm to 6am. AV refused this, even though they are regularly dropping vehicles and shifts at night in the region. They insisted that they would only accept a full night shift, or alternatively the paramedic could not work nights at all. Again, the VAU assisted the member through the grievance process internally. After long delays, there was still no resolution, and the matter was heard before Commissioner Johns.

The Commissioner found that it was unreasonable that AV rejected the FWA request in circumstances where AV was regularly dropping shifts and the paramedic was willing and available to provide 9 hours of coverage on those nights. It was outlined that having a Paramedic attend for a shift for most of the 14 hours was better than having no-one and that this would benefit the community. Therefore, the Commission held that AV did not have reasonable business grounds to refuse the inclusion of the 9 hour shifts in the FWA.

These are both good outcomes for the members involved. However, it is disappointing that even after the VEOHRC report into AV, we still need to fight these matters in the courts to achieve flexibility for members with personal and family circumstances.

In Solidarity!