Opinion: dos and don'ts of RDO handling

By: Warren Clark

Keeping ahead of workforce entitlements is a minefield for small and large business owners

Opinion: dos and don'ts of RDO handling
Warren Clark


Some of the questions employers have around rostered days off (RDOs) are:

What are they?

When, how and why should a company provide RDOs?

What are the alternatives?

In this article, we’ll tackle some of these tricky questions and provide you with what you need to know in making the right decision for providing RDO to your employees.

Do we have to provide RDOs to our drivers? If your employees are covered under an Award, then the answer is "yes".

In road transport, there are two main awards that cover work in the road freight industry: the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010 (Long Distance Award); and the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010 (Distribution Award).

Apart from criteria such as distance travelled, the two awards are closely linked. However, they treat RDO substantially differently.

For example, the Long-Distance Award (clause 20.5) states that full-time drivers are entitled to an RDO for each month of employment. If the employer doesn’t want to give an RDO, then an available option is to get the agreement in writing from an employee that any number of RDOs may be cashed out when an employee takes (or cashes out) annual leave.

Cashing out of RDOs is 20 per cent of the minimum weekly wage rate set out in clause 13.1 of the Long-Distance Award rather than based on the rate of pay derived from the cents per kilometre driving rate or the hourly driving rate.

However, the Road Transport Award (clause 22.5) specifies that RDOs are provided subject to meeting other prescribed conditions in addition to working the set working hours.

Read Warren Clark’s take on coronavirus employment issues, here

More complex than the Long-Distance Award, the Road Transport Award’s RDO provisions also factor in other criteria such as the size of the workforce, type of freight task you’re involved in and if client arrangements are prejudiced by RDOs, to name a few.

As shown, the nuances and complexity in two standards awards pose a challenge to business owners and their employees alike. Seeking expert advice on your specific award and requirements will save you time and money in the long run.


Another way to offer RDOs is through an enterprise agreement (EBA). A mutual, co-written agreement between an employer and employee/s, an EBA can be used in addition to or as an alternative to an Award, so long as the employee under the agreement is better off.

As an example, an EBA could specify that any number of RDOs may be cashed out when an employee takes (or cashes out) their annual leave. Such a provision could also be included in an individual employee agreement under an Individual Flexibility Agreement (IFA).

In establishing either an EBA or an IFA it must be shown that the employee is better off overall when compared with the Award.

EBA/IFA can be a very effective means to foster stronger relationships, trust and loyalty in your workforce and bolster productivity, and as such warrant further investigation on their suitability for your organisation.


One of the other areas of confusion is how public holidays and RDOs relate to one another, and if they are indeed interchangeable. Put simply, the two provisions are mutually exclusive. An RDO cannot, therefore, occur on public holidays, as they are an entitlement. To avoid confusion and impact to the business, the RDO is scheduled for a mutually suitable time or accrued as agreed.


For more information or business workforce support services, and how entitlements work under awards or agreements, contact NatRoad’s member services team today.

Not a member? One of the many benefits of becoming a member of NatRoad is the free-of-charge advice on how to keep on top of all workforce awards and conditions. Visit natroad.com.au for more information.

Warren Clark is NatRoad’s chief executive officer


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