Those proposals are contained under national laws being drawn up to fight workplace fatigue.
Employers are furious they will be turned into the “yawn police” under Safe Work Australia’s draft code of practice for workplace fatigue.
The government agency’s checklist for employers to spot worker fatigue includes headaches, daydreaming, constant yawning, low motivation and moodiness.
It has proposed that bosses “eliminate or reduce the need to work extended hours or overtime” so staff don’t get too tired.
“Safety critical” tasks – such as administering drugs, driving a truck or electrical work – should not be performed in the post-lunch “low body clock period” of 2pm to 4pm, the draft code states.
And rosters should be drawn up to accommodate workers’ social lives.
“If a worker leaves their job tired and exhausted they may be less able to enjoy out of work activities or could be a danger to themselves and others in the community,” the document says.
“Likewise, if a worker arrives at work unfit for duty due to a lack of sleep, illness or other condition, they may be less productive or could be a danger to themselves and others in the workplace.
“To avoid any potential conflicts between personal and work demands, controls include (to) consult with workers and design shift rosters that will enable workers to meet both work and personal commitments.”
The code says employers should train workers in “balancing work and personal lifestyle demands”.
The code of practice – to be finalised next year – will be admissible in court if an employer is charged with breaching workplace health and safety laws.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson said employers should not be held responsible for fatigued workers worn out from partying or family demands.
“It would require employers to delve into matters of a personal and private nature that are none of their business,” he said.
“We don’t want to be the yawn police.”
The Australian Industry Group’s representative on the Safe Work Australia board, Mark Goodsell, warned that employers might be held responsible for the fatigue of staff moonlighting in other jobs.
Any boss who pried into a worker’s partying habit would “look like a nark and invade their privacy”, he said.
“People can lie to you and say they weren’t doing anything on the weekend to make them tired,” he said.
“They’ve got no obligation to tell you what they’re doing at home.
“But there is a legal implication that if an employer is accused of breaking the law, the fact you weren’t following the code can be used against you.”
Even unions have criticised the code, with the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union complaining the fatigue checklist is “not very helpful”.
“How would a workplace assess such things as `reduced immune system function’ or `hallucinations’ and `headaches’?” it told Safe Work Australia in a submission.
And the ACTU suggested that high-risk tasks be minimised between 2am and 6am – not the the 2pm to 4pm suggested in the code.
Safe Work Australia said it was revising the code to address concerns – but would not give details of any changes.
“Changes aim to reflect recent research findings and outcomes of case law,” a spokeswoman said.
FYI Checklist: Safe Work Australia’s guide to worker fatigue
> Headaches and/or dizziness
> Wandering thoughts, daydreaming, lack of concentration
> Blurred vision or difficulty keeping eyes open
> Constant yawning, a drowsy relaxed feeling or falling asleep at work
> Moodiness such as irritability
> Short term memory problems
> Low motivation
> Impaired decision-making and judgment
> Slow reflexes and responses
> Reduced immune system function
> Increased errors
> Extended sleep during days off work
> Falling asleep for a few seconds without realising
> Drifting in and out of traffic lanes
Source: Safe Work Australia draft code of practice on workplace fatigue
The Team at Reinvent Your Career would like to thank The Australian where this article first appeared
Safe Work Australia plan to cut risk for tired workers puts employers offside