Enterprise Agreement Fact Sheets
See Enterprise Agreement fact sheets below.
10-Hour Break between Shifts
The requirement that a doctor must be given a 10-hour break between rostered shifts has been continued in the current AMA DiT Agreement but made more effective through clarifying how the 10-hour break works in relation to doctors on General On-Call or on Standby On-Call.
The 10-hour break is not optional it is mandatory. The language of the AMA DiT Agreement is very clear “Doctors must be free from duty for at least 10 hours between rostered ordinary shifts.”
The entitlement of a doctor is to an uninterrupted 10-hour break.
The AMA DiT Agreement reflects the reality that doctors on call will expect to have their time between rostered shifts interrupted by either phone calls or a return to work. However, the AMA DiT Agreement makes very clear that such interruptions do not remove the right of a doctor to have an uninterrupted 10-hour break.
The AMA DiT Agreement provides “Examples” to show how the entitlement will work in practice. The “Examples” are part of the AMA DiT Agreement as approved by the Fair Work Commission and should be used by both doctors and Health Services to apply the 10-hour break.
A Doctor is rostered 7am to 6pm with the same roster the following day. Overnight the Doctor is ‘on call’ for the Health Service.
If after leaving the hospital the Doctor is disturbed by telephone calls and the last call is received at 11pm, the Doctor is entitled to have 10 hours off duty and is not required to present to the hospital before 9am the following day. The Doctor will work through to 6pm without loss of pay for the day.
If the same Doctor finishes at 6pm on day one and the last telephone call from the Health Service to the Doctor is received by 9pm on day one, the Doctor is required to start work at their normal starting time of 7am the next day.
If the same Doctor finishes at 6pm on day one and a call is received at 4.30am the following day, the Doctor has already received a 10-hour break and can start at their normal starting time of 7am.
OHS Implications of Interrupting a 10-Hour Break
The AMA DiT Agreement introduces an absolute requirement that Health Services must consider and deal with the health and safety implications of doctors answering calls or returning to work during their time off between shifts.
The AMA DiT Agreement provides for 4 specific actions that a Health Service must take:
- A Health Service must have regard to the need to provide a 10-hour break between rostered shifts as well as the obligation to arrange work hours in a way that does not cause an excessive or unsafe work pattern to exist.
- A Health Service must develop a procedure that addresses how occupational health and safety considerations are addressed where they arise (which may include but not be limited to later starting times, earlier finishing times, additional breaks) and expressly encourages Doctors to contact the relevant manager where they have not received a 10-hour break and it may impact on occupational health and safety,
- A Health Service must provide the procedure to all Doctors on General On-Call,
- A Health Service must provide induction and training regarding the procedure to all Doctors on General On-Call.
These 4 requirements do not lessen or remove the absolute requirement that a doctor is to be given an uninterrupted 10-hour break. Rather the requirements deal with the practical manner in which a Health Service will ensure that a doctor does receive an uninterrupted 10-hour break.
Making it all work
The AMA DiT Agreement identifies that a Health Service must develop procedures to deal with the OHS issues of doctors having their breaks between shifts interrupted by calls or returns to work. Consistent with the whole of the AMA DiT Agreement these procedures should be developed through consultation with affected doctors and the AMA where affected doctors seek our representation.
Where a Health Service develops a procedure to deal with the OHS issues of doctors having their breaks between shifts interrupted by calls or returns to work and a dispute arises about the reasonableness of that procedure or where a Health Service does not provide a doctor with an uninterrupted 10-hour break the issue should be dealt with in accordance with the Dispute Resolution procedure in the AMA DiT Agreement.
Members with unresolved issues in relation to breaks between shifts can contact the AMA for advice, assistance or representation.