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Optional Working Hours System (Op-Time)
To provide employees with a system of flexible, family friendly working hours allowing variable start and finish times and the provision of periodic rostered days off duty.
The University operates a system of Optional Working Hours (known as Op-Time) for permanent and fixed -term full time Staff Members classified at HEWL 1-9, research assistants and senior research assistants whose appointment is for a period of at least six months.
Security staff are not eligible to participate in extended op-time.
For the purposes of this document:
The James Cook University Enterprise Agreement.
Means employment made for an indefinite period and may contain a reasonable probationary period. Continuing employment may be on a Full-Time or Part-Time basis.
Staff or Staff Member
Means the employees covered by the James Cook University Agreement.
Policy and Procedures
a) Staff Members may be permitted to work a system of optional working hours to be know an "Op-Time" subject to the following general conditions being met:
- The work of the University will be carried out effectively;
- Services will continue to be provided without detriment to students, staff and/or the general public;
- Work will be properly supervised at all times.
In addition, it should be noted:
- That, because of the abovementioned constraints, it may not be possible for some employees to work Extended Op-Time; and
- That the University reserves the right to require an employee working Extended Op-Time to return to normal hours.
2. Op-Time Rules
a) After agreement with the Head of Work Unit for a Staff Member to participate in Op- Time, Staff must complete the Op-Time Application Form and provide it to Human Resources via Service Now.
b) Staff wishing to vary existing Op-Time arrangements are required to complete the Op-Time Application Form.
c) Staff should note the following special points regarding Extended Op-Time:
- If a Staff Member is working Extended Op-Time and is sick on an Op-Day, Sick Leave is not able to be claimed for that day. (The situation is regarded in the same way as illness on a Saturday or a Sunday);
- A Supervisor may request that a staff member work on a day approved as an Op-Day, and if the staff member agrees, an alternative Op-Day will be agreed. Where an alternative Op-Day is not available in that four week period, the time actually worked will be regarded as overtime and should be applied for via my HR online;
- Each Op-Day must be taken within the four week period in which it is earned. It may not be deferred until a later period, nor may an Op-Day from a later period be taken in advance;
- Leave applications do not have to be completed in respect of Op-Days. The actual day to be taken as an Op-Day is to be mutually agreed upon between the Supervisor and the Staff Member prior to the Op-Day being taken. A schedule of the four week periods for the current year is also available from Human Resources to assist in planning the taking of Op-Days, for staff granted approval to work Extended Op-Time.
3. Basic Op-Time
a) Staff Members may elect, with the approval of their Supervisor, to work a set of start and finish times within the Span of Ordinary Working Hours. For example, a Staff Member may regularly start at 7.30am Monday to Thursday and start at 8.30am on Friday. Once a Staff Member’s elected option is approved, those hours become, from a specified date, the staff member’s ordinary working hours.
b) The span of ordinary hours of work for all Staff are 7.00 am to 7.00 pm Monday to Friday. Staff will negotiate a suitable start and finish time with their Supervisor, ensuring that their work hours fall entirely within the ordinary hours of work and that they work their weekly contracted hours (7 hours and 15 minutes per day, or 36 hours and 15 minutes per week for full time staff). Start and finish times refer to the time a Staff Member actually commences and finishes work, not arrival and departure times from the place of work. A 50% loading is payable from 6pm to 7pm.
c) Where a Staff Member is required by a Supervisor to work additional hours outside these ordinary working hours, this will be regarded as overtime and the conditions set out in the Enterprise Agreement will apply.
d) Before approving proposals by staff to work Basic Op-Time, the Supervisor will ensure that the Principles of Op-time will be met.
4. Extended Op-Time (the Nineteen Day Month)
a) Staff Members may further elect, again with the approval of their Supervisor, to work a slightly longer working day in order to have one day off, to be known as an "Op-Day", every four weeks. Each Op-Day must be taken by mutual agreement between the employee and the Supervisor in the four week period in which it is accrued. Op-Days may NOT be accumulated.
b) Where the employee and the Supervisor so agree, the Op-Day may be taken as two half Op-Days, both of which must be taken within the four week period in which they are earned. For this purpose, a half Op-Day is defined as 3 hours 49 minutes.
c) The half Op-Day must either commence at the employee's ordinary starting time or finish at the employee's ordinary finishing time. The available options for Extended Op-Time are set out in clause 4.3.
4.1 Extended Op-Time (Recreation Leave)
An employee who is granted approval to work Extended Op-Time (ie. a nineteen day month) will have an entitlement to recreation leave of 24 extended days per annum in lieu of the current 25 standard days.
4.2 Extended Op-Time (Personal and Carers Leave)
An employee who is ill on an Op-Day may NOT claim personal and carers leave for the Op-Day (ie. the day is treated in the same way as sickness on a Saturday or Sunday).
4.3 Extended Op-Time – Ordinary Working Hours – Options
The ordinary hours of work for all Staff are 7.00 am to 7.00 pm Monday to Friday. Staff will negotiate a suitable start and finish time with their Supervisor, ensuring that their work hours fall entirely within the ordinary hours of work and that they work their weekly contracted hours (7 hours and 38 minutes per day, or 38 hours and 10 minutes per week for full time staff). Start and finish times refer to the time a Staff Member actually commences and finishes work, not arrival and departure times from the place of work. A 50% loading is payable from 6pm to 7pm.
d) Before approving proposals by staff to work Extended Op-Time, the Supervisor will ensure that the Principles of Op-time will be met.
5. Varying of Op-Time Options
a) A permanent Staff Member who is initially granted approval to work either BASIC OP-TIME or EXTENDED OP-TIME will not normally be permitted to change the selected hours prior to the expiration of a period of 12 months and any subsequent variations will be considered only at 12 monthly intervals.
b) A temporary Staff Member who is initially granted approval to work either BASIC or EXTENDED OP-TIME will not normally be permitted to change the selected ordinary working hours during the period of appointment or prior to the expiration of a period of 12 months, whichever is the shorter period.
c) A Staff Member or the Supervisor may at any time request that, on the grounds of necessity, that a Staff Member’s hours be varied. Variations will be approved by the Dean/Director.
6. Shift Workers
a) Op-time is not available to employees engaged in shift work.
7. New Employees
a) A new Staff Member commencing duty will (subject to obtaining the prior approval of the Supervisor to work either Basic or Extended Op-Time) commence working such hours from the beginning of the first full four week period after the granting of such approval. Until that date, the employee will work 9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily or such other hours as the Supervisor deems appropriate.
Related Policy Instruments
Printed copies of this policy are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Services and Resources
Human Resources Committee
Date for next review:
Amendment to align with implementation of JCU Enterprise Agreement 2016.
Deputy Director Human Resources
Mid-year review of HR Policies in line with the HR Operational Plan Item, Deliver Policy Reviews; Fitness for Future Purpose.
Deputy Director Human Resources
Minor amendments to align with current organisation structure and current delegation practice
Quality, Standards and Policy Officer
Policy sponsor and approval authority amended to reflect approved policy framework
Quality, Standards and Policy Officer
Compressed hours, flexible hours, flex, family friendly, Op-Time
Deputy Director, HR
- James Cook University
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