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Don't be fooled. The so called "family friendly" initiative regarding child care contained in the 2004 EBA isn't worth the paper it's printed on. The way things stand, no one will ever be able to access this so called entitlement.

The offer put to us by the Tasmanian Government in 2004 contained the following clause.

"Where employees are directed to work outside their normal hours, or work patterns, and as a result incur additional commercial child care costs, such costs are to be reimbursed by the employer."

Sounds good doesn't it. This was an employer initiative and we all took it at face value.  WRONG.

The critical word here is "DIRECTED".  This means you have to be ordered to work overtime. 

Question.  When does the Tasmania Fire Service ever order anyone to work overtime?

Answer.  Never.

A number of members have tried to access this clause only to be told - "Oh but we didn't direct you to work overtime."

So, the moral of the tale is that you should get a guarantee in writing before you incur additional child care costs because of overtime.

If a manager says to you

"This is the only time you will be able to get this training done."

Or perhaps,

"We really need you on this campaign fire."

You should be very, very wary.

Don't assume for a moment that the company will pay your additional child care costs, because they won't.

Here are the facts of the matter.

The Tasmania Fire Service has the right to make employees work "reasonable" overtime.

Fair enough, but having to leave your kids unsupervised isn't reasonable.  Having to pay additional child care costs isn't reasonable either, particularly if you are being pressured to work.

If the TFS wants you to work overtime but you have to look after your kids you are entitled to say no.  If the TFS pressures you to work overtime then get witnesses or a written guarantee that the company will pay for your additional child care costs. 

In the absence of a guarantee of this sort you are more than entitled to say no.