Staff Shortages A Problem In Your Workplace?

Published on: Aug 16 2017

The SDA know that staff shortages can be very upsetting and stressful for our members. The SDA takes workplace stress very seriously as it is a health and safety issue.

When workers have to work beyond their reasonable limits, so too does the likelihood of workplace injury.

It is never fair for companies to cut labour to maximise their bottom line at the expense of the health and safety of employees. We hear far too often that:


  • Staff budgets are under pressure;
  • Store hours are being cut;
  • We’re not covering sick leave;
  • Core hours are being reduced; or famously
  • It is not in the budget! (Isn’t it amazing how many staff ARE in the budget when CEO’s or State Managers are doing a store visit – staff just seem to miraculously appear!)


Customers are now being served by fewer sales staff. In some stores, from a customer’s point of view, it has been taken to the extreme where it is difficult to find any staff to help with enquiries.


Angry Customers

Being understaffed becomes even more stressful when customers become unhappy because they can't get the level of customer service they want. To the credit of workers in retail and fast food, they often deal with very difficult customers in a very polite and understanding way, even when the customer is unreasonably upset or angry.

Remember that management needs to not only be made aware of any difficult customers, but THEY need to deal with them! Please ensure you call whoever is in charge, be it your manager, supervisor or duty manager to handle difficult customers.


Speak Up

When there is a lack of staff, please speak up if you are having difficulties in completing your tasks. Always work safely to the best of your ability but speak to your manager.

Often there is literally not enough staff to do all the work. The Union’s position on this is quite clear, it’s a management problem! Of course all employees are expected to work diligently, but if you still can't do all your work in the time allocated, then either more time or more staff are needed. You shouldn't have to stay back with pay if you do not want to and definitely NEVER, without pay! If the situation arises where the store cannot be closed without certain tasks being completed, then you should be paid for the time you stay back. If you are unable to stay back due to personal reasons then you cannot be made to do so.


Don’t be guilted into staying at work if you are sick

SDA officials often hear that management are telling members to “still come in” or to “stay at work” when they are sick. Often being told “We can't let you go home, we can’t find a replacement.” Again, the Unions position on this is clear; if you are sick, you’re sick and you have a right to leave.

If you are like the vast majority of SDA members, you work for a large employer that either has an extensive staff list or has the resources to have one. If you are hearing this request, it means someone hasn't done their homework! Employers should have no real problem finding people who can do the work. Currently if members are off sick they are rarely replaced! If you attend work and you are sick, it may help management in the short term but it is not a good outcome when you spread your germs amongst colleagues and customers.

If you are suffering from workplace stress due to staff shortages, please contact the SDA office on 02 4961 4694 or

 We are always here to help with advice and representation.







We’ve got you covered

For news and info from where you work, choose your industry.