On-call is not overtime

Question: I am an RN working in a public hospital in radiology. I work Monday to Friday as do most staff members in my unit except for a few part-time staff who work weekends. We are also required to be on-call for after-hour emergencies. Recently, staff on-call have been called to work overtime, to replace sick leave absences for eight-hour shifts on weekends. The absences are not necessarily in the Radiology department and staff that have refused have been threatened with disciplinary action. Is this allowed?

Answer: Using on-call staff to replace staff absences is not the intention of having an “On Call” roster. The purpose is to attend emergencies and provide appropriate support and assistance then be released from duty once the patient has been stabilised and the emergency abated, or they are no longer required. If management has issues with replacing staff, strategies need to be developed to cover the situation. The use of on-call staff is not a solution. The Association also has Work Health and Safety objections to using on-call staff in this way.