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Rosters and the Award

Working in a boarding residence is not your typical job. The job requires staff to be on duty before school, after school, into the evenings and on weekends. Some staff will be on active duty or on call through the night and some staff may have duties during the school day.  Boarding supervisory staff are shift workers, and there are rules that govern the shift length, roster changes, breaks and entitlements. But all of this can be very confusing, and it is hard to know where to find the right information. This paper looks at the national award, some rules and a simple process for averaging hours and creating a roster. The legislation that underpins all of this is the Fair Work Act, 2009.


The Rudd Labor government passed The Fair Work Act legislation, which defines the national Industrial Relations system. The states / territory also have state industrial relations systems for employees not covered by the national system some entitlements under the Fair Work Act extend to state system employees.

To administer the Fair Work Act, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) were established. These two entities have quite different roles.

The Fair Work Ombudsman;

  • provides information about Australia’s workplace relations system
  • educates people about fair work practices, rights and obligations
  • resolves workplace issues by promoting and monitoring compliance with suspected breaches of workplace laws, awards and registered agreements
  • enforces workplace laws and seek penalties for breaches of workplace laws
  • enforces certain orders made by the Fair Work Commission.


The Fair Work Commission;

  • helps employees and employers to bargain in good faith and to make, vary or terminate enterprise agreements
  • deals with applications relating to ending employment, including unfair dismissal, unlawful termination or general protections
  • deals with applications for an order to stop bullying at work
  • deals with applications for an order to stop sexual harassment at work
  • makes orders about industrial action, including strikes, work bans and lock outs
  • provides mediation, conciliation and in some cases holds public tribunal hearings to resolve various individual and collective workplace disputes
  • makes workplace determinations, hears and decides on equal remuneration claims, and deals with applications about transfer of business, stand down, general protections and right of entry disputes.

The FWO and Rosters

The Fair Work Ombudsman makes the following statement about changing rosters:

When an employer wants to change an employee’s regular roster or ordinary hours of work, they have to discuss it with the employees first. They have to:

  • provide information about the change (for example, what the change will be and when)
  • invite employees to give their views about the impact of the change
  • consider these views about the impact of the change.

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements can set out extra rules about changing rosters and how and when employees are given rosters.


The Award

The award ‘Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award 2020’ covers boarding supervision services—being an employee whose principal duties are to support the operation of a school’s boarding house in relation to the supervision of students.


The award is a document which sets out the minimum terms and conditions of employment and describe entitlements such as:

  • pay
  • hours of work
  • rosters
  • breaks
  • allowances
  • penalty rates
  • overtime

Clause 30. Consultation about changes to rosters or hours of work

30.1 Clause 30 applies if an employer proposes to change the regular roster or ordinary hours of work of an employee, other than an employee whose working hours are irregular, sporadic or unpredictable.

30.2 The employer must consult with any employees affected by the proposed change and their representatives (if any).

30.3 For the purpose of the consultation, the employer must:

(a) provide to the employees and representatives mentioned in clause 30.2 information about the proposed change (for example, information about the nature of the change and when it is to begin);and

(b) invite the employees to give their views about the impact of the proposed change on them (including any impact on their family or caring responsibilities) and also invite their representative (if any) to give their views about that impact.

30.4 The employer must consider any views given under clause 30.3(b).

30.5 Clause 30 is to be read in conjunction with any other provisions of this award concerning the scheduling of work or the giving of notice.


Clause 16. Breaks

16.1 Meal break

An employer is required to provide an unpaid meal break of not less than 30 consecutive minutes to an employee who is engaged or rostered to work for more than 5 hours on a day. Such meal break will start no later than 5 hours after the employee commenced work on that day.

16.2 Rest break

(a) An employee is entitled to a rest break of 10 minutes for each period of 3 hours worked, with a maximum of 2 rest breaks per shift.

(b) Where the employee has an entitlement to 2 rest breaks, in place of the two 10 minute rest breaks:

(i) the employer and the employee may agree to one rest break of 20 minutes.


(c) A rest break:

(i) will be counted as time worked;

(ii) will be taken at a time suitable to the employer; and

(iii) will not be taken adjacent to a meal break, unless the employee and the employer agree.


16.3 Breaks between periods of duty

(a) Length of the rest period

An employee will be entitled to a minimum break of 10 consecutive hours between the end of one period of duty and the beginning of the next. This applies in relation to both ordinary hours and where overtime is worked.

(b) Where the employee does not get a 10 hour rest

The following conditions apply to an employee, who on the instructions of the employer, resumes or continues work without having had 10 consecutive hours off duty in accordance with clause 16.3(a):

(i) the employee is entitled to be absent from duty without loss of pay until a 10-hour break has been taken; or

(ii) the employee is entitled to be paid 200% of the minimum hourly rate until released from duty.

(c) The entitlements in clauses 16.3(a) and 16.3(b) do not apply to:

(i) a boarding supervision services employee, where the periods of duty are concurrent with a sleepover;

(ii) an employee who is provided with accommodation on the employer’s premises or in the vicinity of the employer’s premises at no cost to the employee;

(iii) an employee who is attending a school camp or excursion; or

(iv) an employee working a broken shift.

Averaging of hours

14.4 An employee’s ordinary hours of work may be averaged over a period of:

(a) for a boarding supervision services employee—up to 12 months


14.5 Boarding supervision services employees

Where a boarding supervision services employee’s hours of work are averaged over a period of 12 months, the employee will be paid the applicable annual rate in clause 17—Minimum rates for all weeks of the year, excluding periods of unpaid leave provided for in this award or the NES, and the following clauses will not apply:

(a) clause 12—Leave without pay during non-term weeks;

(b) clause 14.8—Rostered days off;

(c) clause 15—Ordinary hours of work—shift workers;

(d) clause 21—Overtime; and

(e) clause 22—Penalty rates.

Process for Averaging Hours

The award allows for the averaging of hours across the school year and boarding staff can have work hours averaged in the following way.

  • The leave for shift workers is 5 weeks per year. This allows for 47 weeks to be worked for the school year at 38 hours per week which is 1786 hours. (full time worker)
  • However, the boarding supervisor actually works 40 weeks (school terms and professional development) so hours are calculated by dividing the total number of hours by the 40 weeks actually worked.
  • 1786 / 40 = 44.65 hours each week

Note: This will vary for different contexts as different boarding schools / residences may have shorter or longer terms and may have less or more professional development.

Boarding staff are paid a minimum rate described in clause 17 of the award (at the applicable level) with additional payment for sleepovers and for having first aid qualification. Most boarding residences pay rates which are higher than the award.

 Creating the Roster

  1. Identify on a weekly timetable the peak load, average load, and low load times of each day. Some residences will do this for a whole term if the load changes from week to week.
  2. Carry out a risk assessment process to determine correct staff to student ratio for your context and for each load period.
  3. Multiply the hours and number of staff for each load period and add until you have the total number of rostered hours required for the week. Add in ‘hand over’ times (overlap for shift changes), meetings and professional learning.
  4. Divide the total hours by 44.65 to get the number of people required.
  5. Work with staff to develop rosters.


Example: XYZ Boarding School

  1. Identifying the loads – see diagram below
  1. Risk assessment to determine staff to boarder ratios. XYZ Boarding School has 90 students. Risk assessment resulted in;
    1. Zone 1: Ratio of 1:30 (3 supervisors on duty)
    2. Zone 2: Ratio of 1:20  (4.5 supervisors on duty)
    3. Zone 3: Ratio of 1:15   (6 supervisors on duty)
  2. Multiply hours and numbers of staff
    1. Zone 1 = 17.5 hours x 3 supervisors = 52.5 supervisor hours (Note the Zone 1 times from 11.30pm to 6.30pm will be covered by sleepover staff)
    2. Zone 2 = 14 hours x 4.5 supervisors = 63 supervisor hours
    3. Zone 3 = 51.5 hours x 6 supervisors = 309 supervisor hours
      1. Total = 424.5 supervisor hours (these hours do not include meetings, handover and PD time)
    4. Divide total supervisor hours by full time load = 44.65
    5. 5 supervisor hours divided by 44.65 = 9.5 supervisors

Note 1: Changing the ratios will change the number of staff required

Zone 1 (1:30), Zone 2( 1:25), Zone 3 (1:20) = 7.5 supervisors

Zone 1 (1:40), Zone 2( 1:35), Zone 3 (1:30) = 5.15 supervisors

Note 2: Staff to boarder ratios will be affected by the supervisory involvement of senior staff, and specialist staff such as recreation / activities staff, and tutoring staff. Ratios will also be affected by boarding supervisors who have offsite responsibilities such as picking students up from sports practice, taking a student to the doctor or dentist.

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