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Employee consent not always necessary when changing roster patterns

Submitted on Thursday, 11th May 2017

The Fair Work Commission Full bench has upheld an employer’s appeal, finding changes to rosters to meet the needs of the business did not contravene their enterprise agreement. Commissioner Johns was initially satisfied the objective intention of the agreement was to “infuse’ part-time working arrangements with ‘predictability’ and ‘certainty’ when determining that the business could not change part- time employee rosters without their consent.   

The business submitted the Commissioner erred in his interpretation as the clause did not provide for joint-decision making and did not require an employee to agree to each variation. The Full Bench overturned the decision finding that with proper consultation and notice the business was entitled to change the rosters. They held employee consent was required if there was a change to the number of part time hours worked, but there was no requirement for consent for the scheduling of shifts which were subject to change at the direction of management.  

This decision does not allow employers to unilaterally change rosters, however it highlights the need to consider terms of employment in an enterprise agreement, modern award or employment contract when considering the implementation of changes to patterns of work. Employers must also consider anti-discrimination laws when consulting with employees about these changes.  

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https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/decisionssigned/html/2017fwcfb1093.htm

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