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Tuesday, 17 July 1906

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - The answers to the honorable member's questions, as supplied by the Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, are as follow : -

1.   Yes.

2.   The work of certain other offices in the city of Sydney and suburbs, which do not close until 8 p.m., requires the presence of either the postmasters or their assistants at 7 a.m. for a comparatively short time. The daily period of thirteen hours indicated in the question, and in some instances longer periods, represent the general work of these offices, carried out by the staffs, but no instance is known in which the postmasters are working or required to work to the extent of about fourteen hours per diem in performing duties of the PostmasterGeneral's Department.

3.   At official post and telegraph offices where there is not more than one person employed competent to undertake all duties required, postmasters are permitted to close their offices during meal hours from 12.30 to 1.30 p.m., and from 6 to 7 p.m. At offices where two or more persons competent to undertake all duties are employed, postmasters are permitted to arrange the hours of duty of their staffs, so that they may be relieved for an hour for each meal.

4.   Commonwealth Public Service Regulation No. 4 provides for hours of attendance to be observed by officers not subject to special Regulations or Departmental arrangements. In that behalf postmasters are subject to special Regulations or Departmental arrangements, and their working hours are governed by unrepealed New South Wales Post and Telegraph Department Regulations issued 1st June, 1895, viz., Portion of Regulation No. 5 : " Every Posmaster is required to give his personal attention to the discharge of the duties of his office, and must on no account intrust such duties to others without authority from the Head Office. He must not absent himself during office hours without permission from the Deputy Postmaster-General." Portion of No. 7 : "It is left to the discretion of the Postmaster to regulate the duties and the hours of attendance of his staff, which should be done with a view to each official being required to perform a fair day's work, and none being expected to work continuously for an undue length of time ; " and portion of Regulation No. 27 : " At official Post and Telegraph offices, where there is not more than one person employed the Postmaster may close his office from 12.30 to 1.30 p.m., and 6 to 7 p.m., but where two or more are stationed it must not be closed during meal hours." In practice the discretion left with postmasters under Regulation 7 has generally permitted of efficient arrangements being made to afford them relief from duty without interfering with the transaction of public business, and with due regard to the local circumstances of each office. If an instance in which a Postmaster is required to work unreasonably long hours he brought under notice, remedial steps could be taken.

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