Paramedics union wins test case for unpaid wages

Australian Paramedics Association (NSW)

NSW Paramedics are a step closer to fair remuneration for their previously unpaid overtime, after a decision handed down at the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) ordered NSW Ambulance to backpay one union member for three extra shifts worked due to a roster change.

The Commission ruled in favour of the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) in a Small Claims matter filed on behalf of one member made to work an additional 36.75 hours during the last three weeks of a nine-week roster cycle in 2018.

“Our member has been waiting three years to see the payment he is owed for working extra hours,” said APA (NSW) President Chris Kastelan.

“Today, we congratulate him on his perseverance. We hope that this sends a clear message to NSW Ambulance: Paramedics cannot be forced to work unpaid extra shifts through roster manipulation.”

The decision is a hard-fought win for APA (NSW), who first lodged a case with the Commission in 2019, and pursued a Small Claims application last year after NSW Ambulance refused to act on a Commission recommendation that it pay the member and review rostering practices.

The underpayment came about after the member’s roster pattern was changed midway through the roster period. The Commission concluded that, due to the pattern change by NSW Ambulance, APA (NSW)’s member had “worked 3 shifts in the last 3 weeks of the 9 week roster cycle… over and above the number of shifts that he would normally have been required to work.”[1]

The Commission yesterday concluded that these shifts should have been paid on overtime, and ordered interest to be paid to account for the delay in rectifying this underpayment.

“Unfortunately, this member’s case is representative of widespread practices when it comes to roster changes, and too often Paramedics are getting the raw end of the bargain” said Mr Kastelan.

“In one three-week period, this member worked the equivalent of a full extra week in unpaid additional hours. By anybody’s standards, that’s a rip-off. We should be paying Paramedics for the work they do, and it shouldn’t take three years and multiple cases before the IRC for a wrong like this to be corrected.”

“Our union will continue fighting to ensure no Paramedic is underpaid for the important work they do. We encourage any Paramedic who believes they have been underpaid to contact us for assistance.”

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