COVID-19 Updates

Frequently asked questions: Do I have to give my drivers a rostered day off?

NatRoad is always publishing new advice and resources for members on topical human resource issues.

In our new “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) series of articles we will cover real questions asked by your fellow members and contemporaries and answered by NatRoad’s advisers.

One of the most frequent questions asked is “Do I have to give my drivers a rostered day off?”

Like many questions that relate to employee entitlements under modern awards, the answer to this simple question is not simple.

In short, the answer is ‘yes’ if your drivers are employed under an award, rather than an enterprise agreement – but there are some conditions and flexibility in the ways these can be delivered.

There are two main awards that cover work in the road transport industry: the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2020 (Distribution Award) and the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2020 (Long-Distance Award).

Generally, the Distribution Award applies to a road transport and distribution industry, unless a long-distance operation is undertaken. A long-distance operation is defined as any return journey that exceeds 500 kilometers from a principal point of commencement to a principal point of destination, or an interstate journey that exceeds 200 kilometers.

Even though the two Awards are closely linked, the RDO provisions are markedly different. Clause 13.5 of the Long-Distance Award specifies that full-time drivers are entitled to an RDO for each month of employment. If the employer doesn’t want to provide an RDO, then there is an option available to seek a mutual agreement in writing between the employer and individual employee/s to accumulate (bank) up to 10 RDOs that are then “cashed out” when an employee takes a period of annual leave.

The value of an RDO when it is “cashed out” (i.e. the amount that the employee must be paid) is 20% of the minimum weekly wage rate set out in clause 16.1 of the Long Distance Award, rather than the rate of pay derived from the cents per kilometer driving rate, or the hourly driving rate.  These arrangements could be captured in a specific agreement with an individual employee called an Individual Flexibility Agreement (IFA).

On the other hand, clause 20.5 of the Distribution Award specifies that RDOs must be provided, unless the employee is working ordinary hours, for example seven hours and 36 minutes (7.6 hours) daily over a continuous five-day period. This Award is more complex than the Long Distance Award, with exceptions in place depending on the size of the workforce, the type of freight involved and client arrangements that are prejudiced by RDOs, to name a few.

An alternative to offering RDOs is to put in place IFAs with your employees, negotiated after they start work with the business.  IFAs could be developed to modify the operation of one or both Awards, so long as employees under the IFA are better off overall than under the Award. As an example, an IFA could specify that any number of RDOs may be cashed out when an employee takes (or cashes out) their annual leave, as is the case under the Long Distance Award.

Do you have a burning HR question that needs answering?

Members can e-mail their questions to info@natroad.com.au and our advisers will answer our questions directly to you. Alternatively, you can speak with one of our advisers during normal business hours by calling (02) 6295 3000.

Members can also access industry specific HR support information and resources, industry news, and latest information in the member’s section of the new NatRoad website found here.

NatRoad communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Our advisors are available to clarify any questions you have and provide the right advice for your business and workforce. Contact David at david.johns@natroad.com.au or Richard at richard.calver@natroad.com.au, or on (02) 6295 3000.