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Ask Maddy: on-call and recall

Ask Maddy: on-call and recall

Madeleine Harradence, Assistant Secretary of ANMF (Vic Branch)

On-call and recall, like many entitlements, varies dependent on which enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) covers your workplace. This article is based on the provisions contained in the Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement 2020-2024.

What is ‘on-call’?

Typically, you would be placed on-call where there is a reasonable likelihood that you may be required to come back to work when off duty. If you are required to come back to work when on-call, this is called ‘recall’.

For each period of on-call, you are entitled to be paid the ‘on-call allowance’. A period is 12 hours. If you are on call for more than 12 hours you receive the allowance again.

For the first time, there is now an obligation on employers to apply the same rostering principles to on-call work, as applies to ordinary work. Any on-call that could reasonably be expected (at the time the roster is published) must be on a written roster, of at least 28 days duration, posted at least 28 days before it comes into operation.

If the on-call roster changes without 14 days’ notice, the change of roster allowance is payable.

Your employer can place you on-call if the requirement for the on-call was not known at the time the roster was released, but in this scenario, the change of roster allowance (below) applies.

What if my on-call roster changes or I am put on-call at short notice?

If you are placed on-call, or your on-call roster changes with less than a fortnight’s notice (other than an emergency external to the employer) the Change of Roster Allowance will apply in relation to each change as follows:

  • 7 days’ or less notice, 5% of the base rate and
  • 8 to 14 days’ notice, 2.5% of the base rate.

What applies if I am recalled?

All recall is paid at overtime rates. The payment starts when you commence the journey back to work and finishes when you return home after recall.

If you use your own vehicle to get to work (or return) you are entitled to receive the vehicle allowance. Otherwise, your employer must provide reasonable transport at their expense.

Where you finish overtime at a time when reasonable means of transport are not available for you, your employer must provide you adequate transport free of cost.

What if I can do the recall from home?

Some members are expected to be available in their off-duty periods to respond to inquiries, this attracts the on-call allowance. The recall is known as ‘recall without return to workplace’. This typically applies where the recall to duty can be managed without you having to return to your workplace, such as by telephone or computer.

As in the previous EBA, you will be paid a minimum of one hour at the appropriate overtime rate for each occasion, however multiple recalls within a discrete hour will not attract additional payment.

The 2020-2024 EBA seeks to address the fatigue impact of recall, in particular where you are due to commence work after the completion of recall. Where you are due to commence your rostered shift within four hours of the completion of the last recall, and in the eight hours immediately preceding the rostered shift either (a) or (b) below applies:

(a)         recall has exceeded two hours work (rather than the time paid); or

(b)         you have had three or more recalls over a period of four hours or more,

Your employer must either:

  • not require you to resume or to continue to work without having had 10 consecutive hours off duty without loss of pay for rostered ordinary hours; or
  • pay you at the rate of double time until released from duty for 10 consecutive hours, without loss of pay for rostered ordinary hours occurring during such absence.

Can I be recalled for routine work?

If you were on-call to respond to emergencies, you should not also be expected to do routine non-emergency work. As of 1 July 2021, if you are rostered on-call to staff an emergency in a catheter laboratory or operating theatre (including anaesthetics and recovery) you will not be required to work overtime or be otherwise recalled other than for the emergency during that on-call period.  You may be required to remain at work beyond the completion of your rostered shift to conclude a procedure that was already under way but this is treated as recall even though you haven’t left the workplace.

Your employer should ensure that non-emergency overtime/recall will be allocated to other employees.