When does my shift start – when does it finish?

As the demand for swimming lessons increases and parents are constantly looking to get their kids into lessons at times that are convenient for them, the result for swimming teachers is an interesting daily schedule. It has become common practice in the industry to run an intermittent timetable where one day may consist of anywhere from two to five different “shifts”. A swim school may determine a shift to be for example, the “morning classes”, “squad classes”, “schools classes” or “afternoon classes” or any other period on a given day where it is convenient to group the work of a given group of teachers may take part in. However, does this line up with the hours of engagement outlined for many swim teachers in the Fitness Industry Award 2010 (FIA)*?

A swim school may, and indeed should, separate the working day into the most efficient schedule possible, in order to maximise the use of the pool. In doing so, they must ensure to conform to the requirements for hours of engagement under the FIA, or their respective Enterprise Agreement. A working day may be separated into two broken shifts so long as the total length of the shifts is no less than three hours, and they receive an allowance. Furthermore, a working day cannot be broken up so often that the start and end of each class is taken to be one shift. There may be instances where swim schools run a number of different groups across a given day. These may be broken into shifts that meet the requirements of the FIA.

But what does that actually mean? Can we work 45-minute shifts? Nope – well technically yes, but you must be paid for a minimum of 1 hour if you are a casual. Can we work more than one shift in a day? Yep – but you can’t be made to work more than two shifts and if you do work two shifts then you must be paid a broken shift allowance. Can we be paid for the time we spend teaching and not paid for gaps between classes? No. For example: teachers cannot be called to work what is essentially a 5-hour day, say from 9:00am – 2:00pm, but only paid for 3.75 hours because there is a 15-minute gap between each class.

The FIA stipulates the engagement of swimming teachers in terms of hours not classes. That is to say that if a swimming teacher works from 9:00am until 12:00pm then they are entitled to be paid for that entire time. If you are a swimming teacher, you should ensure that you are being paid for all the hours that you are required to be at work. If you work more than one shift in a day then you should ensure that you are receiving your split shift allowance. There is scope within the FIA to ensure that swim schools are able to carry out the running of their business, however, it should not be done in such a way that swim teachers are missing out on their entitlements.

*Information in this article is in reference to swim teachers who are employed under the Fitness Industry Award 2010. Conditions and entitlements may vary if an employee’s conditions are governed by a specific Enterprise Agreement.

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