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Ask Paul: Overtime

Ask Paul: Overtime

Paul Gilbert, ANMF (Vic Branch) Assistant Secretary

Overtime is an entitlement for full-time, part-time and casual employees and should be claimed and paid.

By claiming your overtime, you ensure actual working hours are recorded, which also means problems with inadequate staffing levels can be identified and addressed. It will soon become more cost effective to employ additional staff rather than being reliant on overtime.

Working excessive overtime can also impact negatively on your practice and your health, and compromise patient/resident care. You and your employer have a responsibility to prevent this.

When am I entitled to claim for overtime?

When you:

  • work beyond the end of your rostered shift; or
  • are recalled to work when off-duty; or
  • do not receive an eight-hour break between rostered shifts; or
  • work more hours than a full-time employee would.

Does my employer have to authorise the overtime?

Generally, yes. However, circumstances may arise when this did not occur or was not possible.

The 2016 EBA recognised this and allows ANMF to argue your case in Fair Work if you did overtime that could not reasonably be approved in advance or was as a consequence of circumstances beyond your control, and your employer does not subsequently authorise payment.

The 2020–2024 EBA includes a clause confirming that overtime requested by the nurse or midwife in-charge of the shift is deemed to be authorised and must be paid.

What should I get paid for working overtime?

Monday to Friday (inclusive) – time and a half for the first two hours, then double time thereafter. This applies on a per-occasion basis, meaning if you work overtime on another occasion the first two hours revert to time and a half.

Saturday to Sunday (inclusive) – double time.

You do not receive shift penalties for overtime work.

What about ‘time off in lieu’?

You may request time off in lieu of overtime but cannot be required to. Time off in lieu is equivalent to the overtime penalty (e.g., the first two hours overtime equals three hours’ time off in lieu) and must be taken within 28 days of when it was worked. If this does not happen then you must be paid what you are owed, at the original overtime rates, in the next pay period.

Am I obliged to work overtime?

If you are on-call then almost certainly yes. ‘On-call’ is a rostered period of availability where you can be contacted to come back to work, and if this occurs it is called ‘recall’. If you are rostered to be on-call (i.e., to be available to be recalled to duty beyond your rostered hours) you are entitled to receive an on-call allowance for each 12-hour period, or part thereof.

Therefore, if you were on-call for 14 hours, you would receive the allowance twice. Otherwise, you may refuse to work overtime if the request is unreasonable.

To determine if a request is unreasonable, the following must be taken into account:

  • any risk to your health and safety from working the additional hours
  • your personal circumstances, including family responsibilities
  • the needs of your workplace
  • the notice given of any requirement to work the additional hours
  • any notice you give of your inability to work additional hours
  • the usual patterns of work in your area
  • the nature of your role, and your level of responsibility
  • any other relevant matter.

What about double shifts?

A double shift is one where you stay on after your shift and work another consecutive shift. This should only ever occur in emergency circumstances. Overtime is payable for the entire second shift, and to mitigate the risk of fatigue and clinical error you must be provided:

  • breaks of at least 10 minutes duration in each two hours worked; and
  • adequate transport home free of cost to the employee, including the return journey where your vehicle remains at the workplace.

What if I am called to come back to work?

This is called ‘recall’. You are entitled to a minimum of three hours pay at the overtime rate for each occasion of recall, and you cannot be required to work the full three hours if the work you were called in for is completed in a shorter timeframe.

The time spent travelling to and from the place of duty will be deemed to be time worked.

This clarifies that if you are told at 9:00pm that you will be recalled at 2.00am, your recall starts when you commence your journey to work for the 2:00am start.

Recall when on-call for emergencies

As of 1 July 2021, an employee rostered on call for the purposes of recall to staff an emergency in a catheter laboratory or operating theatre (including anaesthetics and recovery) will not be required to work overtime or be otherwise recalled other than for the emergency during that on-call period, however:

  • you may be required to remain at work beyond the completion of rostered ordinary hours to conclude a procedure that commenced before the conclusion of rostered ordinary hours;
  • you will be entitled to recall to duty in the event you remain on-duty after the completion of a procedure that commenced before the conclusion of rostered ordinary hours; and
  • as far as practicable, and having regard to fatigue considerations, each employer will seek to ensure that non-emergency overtime/recall will be allocated to employees to whom (a) does not apply.

Travel to and from work when recalled

If you are recalled and use your vehicle for transport from home to work and return, you are entitled to the EBA vehicle allowance ‘for reasonable kilometres travelled’.

The inclusion in the 2020 EBA of the term ‘for reasonable kilometres travelled’ arises from the changed wording about recall – it used to say travel from ‘home to work’ when in fact the employee may not be ‘at home’ when recalled. At the same time, it would be most unlikely you would be an ‘unreasonable’ distance from work while on-call.

If you do not use your own vehicle your employer must provide you with suitable transport to work at no cost to you. If you finish the recall at a time when reasonable means of transport are not available for you to return home, your employer must provide adequate transport at no cost to you.

What if I can manage the problem without returning to work?

Where recall to duty can be managed without you having to return to your workplace, you must be paid a minimum of one hour’s overtime, which then compensates for that and other recalls within that hour.

This typically applies where the recall to duty can be managed without you having to return to the workplace, such as by telephone or computer.

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)


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

your employer must:

(a) 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:


(b) 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.

Imagine you are rostered to commence your normal shift at 7.00am Tuesday. You are required to be available to respond to inquiries from 9.30pm Monday through to 7.00am Tuesday (this clearly includes the eight hours immediately preceding your rostered shift; the key period is the eight hours prior to your shift commencing, even if the recall requirement finishes earlier than 7.00am).

Example 1: Between 11.00pm and 7.00am (the eight hours preceding your rostered shift) you receive multiple inquires, and when you add the time taken with each inquiry the total amount is 120 minutes or more.

Example 2: Between 11.00pm and 7.00am (the eight hours preceding your rostered shift) you receive three or more inquires, within a four-hour window such as between 2.00am and 6.00am)

In either example above, your employer must either:

(a) not require you to resume or to continue to work at 7.00am but must pay you for your rostered ordinary hours (typically 7.00am to 3.30pm) until you receive a 10-hour period without any work including on-call;


(b) pay you at the rate of double time from 7.00am for any hours worked until you receive a 10-hour period without any work including on-call and pay you as though you were at work for any rostered hours between completing work and achieving a 10-hour period without any work including on-call.

What if I don’t get a decent break between when I finish overtime and am due to start my next shift?

You should have at least 10 hours off between the end of recall, and the start of the next rostered shift. If this means you miss out on rostered hours, then you must be paid those hours. However, this break does not apply if you are still at work on overtime when your rostered shift commences.

If your employer cannot or will not give you the ten-hour break you must continue to be paid at the overtime rate until you get your 10-hour break.

What if overtime causes me to have insufficient days off?

The 2016 EBA contains a provision that applies if you:

  • normally work four or more days a week; and
  • work 14 or more hours consecutively (this may be a mix of rostered hours and overtime); and
  • these hours include night-time (finish on the day after commencing duty or commence after midnight and before 5am); and
  • some of those hours occur on your day off.

If this apples to you, you must be granted a substitute rostered day off on a working day (without loss of pay) as soon as practicable, but not later than 14 days.

The logic of the employee having to normally work four or more shifts a week is because that cohort of members only get two or three days off a week and spending you first day off recovering from work is like not getting a day off at all.

What are the overtime rates for casuals?

The 2020 EBA, for the first time, set out the minimum rates for casuals working overtime.

Monday to Friday (inclusive) – 175% for the first two hours (which equates to time and a half plus the casual loading of 25%) and 225% (double time plus casual loading of 25%) for all subsequent hours.

Saturday to Sunday (inclusive) – 225% (which equates to double time plus the casual loading of 25%).

Am I entitled to rest breaks during overtime?

Yes. An employee working overtime will take a paid rest break of 20 minutes after each four hours of overtime worked (if required to continue to work after four hours).

When do I get a meal allowance?

There are two meal allowances in the EBA: Meal Allowance A and Meal Allowance B.

  • On any day where you work one hour beyond your usual finishing hour of work, you are entitled to Allowance A, and if you work five hours beyond your usual finishing hour of work, you also receive Allowance B.
  • If, on a day off, you work five hours overtime, you are entitled to Allowance A, and if you work nine hours overtime, you also receive Allowance B.

The above does not apply if your employer has its own cooking and dining facilities and provides you an adequate meal or you could reasonably return home for a meal within the period allowed.

You are entitled to request and receive payment of the meal allowance on the same day overtime is worked.

Using your home phone for on-call

If you are required to install and/or maintain a fixed telephone line for the purposes of being on-call your employer will refund the installation costs and pay a fortnightly Telephone Allowance.

This does not apply to mobile telephones.