Some months ago staff from the afternoon shift, for which I’m HSR, were all put temporarily on day shift. At the first subsequent OHS committee meeting I was informed I am longer an HSR.
The proposition that variations to shift patterns involve the obligation to consult under s.35 is straightforward. Part of these discussions should involve OHS representative structures. From your query it appears at least the second part did not occur.
The first thing to do would be to discuss with your employer the potential breach of the Act, maybe under s.73 issue resolution. You may be able to argue that as the shift is only temporary and that afternoon shift workers are still in a discrete group that will return to their home shift at some stage, that you remain their HSR. Please note however that this is not conclusive. Depending on how the DWGs are negotiated and described, if your DWGs have been established by shift, then it follows that no afternoon shift workers means no afternoon shift HSRs.
Another option, depending on how long the changes may last, is that there are many variables in how to best and most conveniently enable the interests of employees to be represented. For example does the influx of afternoon shift workers mean that numbers on the new day shift are large enough to vary the day shift DWG to add an extra HSR?
We’d also strongly recommend seeking additional counsel and support from your Union.
If you have any OHS-related questions send them in via our Ask Renata portal. Your questions will be answered by someone in the VTHC's OHS Unit.