What to know when employing casual nurses on weekends and public holidays?

What to know when employing casual nurses on weekends and public holidays?

A recent decision by the Fair Work Commission Full Bench has changed the way casual employees under the Nurses Award 2010 are to be paid when working public holidays, weekends and overtime.

Previously there were conflicting interpretations on how penalty loadings under the Nurses Award should be calculated, however the more commonly adopted approach was for employers to multiply penalties by the base ordinary hourly rate and then add the casual loading. In the decision, the Full Bench has now clarified that casual Nurses should have penalties (i.e weekend, public holidays and overtime but not shift allowances) multiplied by the casually loaded rate (that is, the ordinary rate + 25% casual loading).

On 1 August 2019, the Fair Work Ombudsman published new Pay Guides to reflect the Full Bench’s interpretation on how penalties under the Nurses Award should be calculated   effective from 1 July 2019. CCER recommends ensuring any casual employees covered by the Nurses Award are not paid below the penalty rates provided in the Pay Guides.

If your organisation has an enterprise agreement in place that covers penalty arrangements for any nursing staff, you will not be directly impacted by this decision. You will however need to continue to ensure the ordinary hourly rate of pay (excluding loadings) contained in your enterprise agreement does not fall below the comparative rate of pay under the Nurses Award. This is to ensure compliance with section 206 of the Fair Work Act 2009, which requires that the base rate of pay under an enterprise agreement must not be less than the modern award rate.

For further clarification on this or other conditions under the Nurses Award, please contact CCER on 02 9390 5255.


 Nicholas Donney is an Employment Relations Specialist at CCER.

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