In a regrettable tone, a memo from management at the City of Melbourne announced that staff will be required to clock on and off each day, but don’t blame them for the burden or the lack of trust. Apparently it’s the fault of the WorkChoices legislation:

As part of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005, beginning Monday, 25 September 2006, staff will be required to ‘sign on’ and ‘sign off’ at the beginning and end of each day.

I understand that signing on and off every day is an imposition on all staff. However, the City must comply with this new regulation (Regulation 19.1), which has been imposed Australia-wide on all workplaces covered by the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the new rules. Acting on advice of the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI), the City of Melbourne now requires all employees to mark their daily attendance in a “paper-based record book”. Crikey was unable to confirm morning and afternoon roll calls were also considered.

David Gregory, general manager of workplace relations at VECCI, argues the new regulations actually protect employees. “These changes require employers to keep these records so future disputes can be determined more fairly by a third party,” he told Crikey. “Even though it might be seen as intrusive, I think the intention is to require certain records are kept to protect employees in any future dispute. I would have thought this was one aspect where the new Act wouldn’t be controversial from an employee’s point of view.”

But George Wright, director of communications at the ACTU, disagrees. “The Federal Government is giving bosses the right to watch employees more closely, and if that wasn’t the intention it’s definitely the result. Even in cases where there’s a mutual understanding and it’s worked quite well, this represents another shift in power to employers.” Wright says.

What it means in the short term is more paperwork for everyone. How else employers use the information will become apparent soon enough, as will the reaction of employees, which in the hands of the right spinners could become another WorkChoices-related embarrassment for the government.

Peter Fray

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