TAFE: the effect of public holidays on overtime thresholds
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 6, 14 August 2020, page no.20
With the movement of the 2020 Brisbane Exhibition holiday from a Wednesday to a Friday, it is timely to remind members of the impact on overtime thresholds of the colloquially known “four-fifths rule”.
Mediating a dispute in 1991, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission found that “in a week where a public holiday occurs, teaching staff can be programmed for 4/5, that is 17 hours of teaching time, of the overall teaching and associated function and incidental duties prescribed under the award”.
The principles were reiterated by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in 1995 and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) in 1999. In the most recent matter, the QIRC full bench stated that “employees who do not work Monday to Friday or who work a non-standard week should not be disadvantaged in relation to the provision of statutory holidays.”
Among other principles, the Commission stated that full-time workers who do not work Monday to Friday should not forfeit the benefit of a statutory holiday, “because a prescribed holiday falls on a non-work day”, and that a full-time employee who works a non-standard week should be assured of either an actual day or a substitute day.
In 2014, at the time TAFE Queensland was established as a statutory authority, undertakings were given that it would adhere to the Department of Education policy on the effects of public holidays and unplanned leave for teacher/tutor programming in weeks with public holidays, and for unplanned leave, colloquially known as the four-fifths rule.
The Queensland Teachers’ Union therefore maintains that, under the policy, a full-time employee, regardless of work pattern, is only required to work 17 contact hours in a week with a public holiday before receiving overtime.
With the legislated movement of the 2020 Brisbane Exhibition Holiday, some employees who in previous years would have benefitted from the public holiday may not this year. If you are on a non-standard work pattern which doesn’t include Friday, you will need to contact your manager in advance to clarify that you will exceed the 17-hour threshold and are therefore eligible in that week to receive overtime.
A factsheet with further information is available from the QTU through the Queensland Teachers Assist Desk.