Extra week of annual leave for shiftworkers
Some shiftworkers get 5 weeks of annual leave a year instead of 4 weeks. This is an entitlement from the National Employment Standards (NES).
Shiftworkers covered by an award or agreement
For a shiftworker to get 5 weeks of annual leave, their award or agreement must contain a definition of shiftworker for the purpose of the NES.
For the purpose of the NES, a shiftworker is an employee:
- who is required to work over a roster cycle that includes any of the 7 days of the week
- who is regularly rostered to work Sundays and public holidays.
If their award doesn’t have a definition of shiftworker for the purpose of the NES, a shiftworker doesn’t get 5 weeks of annual leave.
Shiftworkers not covered by an award or agreement
A shiftworker not covered by an award or agreement gets 5 weeks of annual leave if:
- their workplace has shifts that are continuously rostered 24/7
- they are regularly rostered to work those shifts
- they regularly work on Sundays and public holidays.
What does ‘regularly rostered to work those shifts’ mean?
It means the employee has to be rostered to work on the shifts that are part of the continuous shift roster.
However, the employee doesn’t have to be working on all of the shifts that are on the continuous shift roster.
Example: Working shifts that are part of a continuous shift roster
Aimee is a shiftworker who regularly works on Sundays and public holidays.
Her section has a shift roster that continues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Aimee is always rostered on night shift on the continuous shift roster.
Aimee’s annual leave accumulates based on 5 weeks per year.
This is because Aimee’s workplace operates a continuous shift roster and her shifts are part of that roster.
Adam also works regularly on Sundays and public holidays in another section of the same business. Adam’s section operates 7 days per week, but only has one shift each day.
Adam’s annual leave accumulates based on 4 weeks per year.
Adam’s workplace operates a continuous shift roster, but he’s not rostered to work shifts that are part of that roster.
What does ‘regularly work on Sundays and public holidays’ mean?
An award or agreement may say what ‘regularly work on Sundays and public holidays’ means.
If there’s no definition, or a shiftworker isn’t covered by an award or agreement, as a starting point it’s reasonable to use 34 Sundays and public holidays (or pro rata for a part-time employee).
Please note that a court or tribunal will look at the details of a case and may decide that a certain number and/or combination of Sundays and public holidays is applicable in the case before them.
Shiftworkers working part of a year
If an employee works for part of a year as a shiftworker, they get annual leave based on 5 weeks per year for that part of the year.
Example: Working shifts for part of the year
Sue was a full-time shiftworker who regularly worked on Sundays and public holidays.
After 6 months, Sue transferred to another section and stopped working shifts for 6 months.
For the first 6 months, Sue’s annual leave accumulated based on 5 weeks a year, because she was a shiftworker.
For the second 6 months, Sue’s annual leave accumulated based on 4 weeks a year, because she wasn’t a shiftworker.
Sue gets a total of 4.5 weeks of annual leave for the year.
O’Neill v Roy Hill Holdings Pty Ltd  FWC 2461 - found that employees had to work at least 34 Sundays and 6 public holidays to get an extra week of annual leave.
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