- from afl.com.au
THE AFL Coaches Association has put the annual leave and work-life balance of its members on the agenda, starting work on a standard contract for all coaches.
If the eventual recommendation is adopted by clubs it would be in place for the 2016 season and likely result in a minimum six weeks annual leave for coaches, based on early discussions.
The AFLCA recently conducted an annual survey of coaches at every level in the AFL to establish if they had concerns about their work-life balance in season, but the results suggested 97 per cent didn't.
There is a discrepancy in annual leave across the industry, however, that the AFLCA is seeking to address through a standard contract, with some coaches granted six weeks off at the end of the year and others only four weeks.
The AFLCA has been asked by its members to design a standard contract this year as one of two priorities with an aim to complete the project before the 2015 Grand Final.
CEO Mark Brayshaw said the AFLCA was consulting widely to come up with a model that would suit the industry.
"The Coaches Association doesn't have any jurisdiction in this area, therefore our goal is to consult with the clubs and experienced people in our industry to come up with a sensible recommendation that everybody is happy with," Brayshaw told AFL.com.au.
"They (coaches) are not working in an ambulance, in an emergency ward or as single mums trying to also work a job, but a challenge for coaches is that the season is the best part of 30 weeks long and there is not much respite.
"School teachers work intensely for blocks of 10-12 weeks and then have a break and reload.
"In order to have a fresh, creative and effective coach, work-life balance is something we're exploring."
Another discrepancy the AFLCA is looking into is the lack of days off available to WA coaches within the season due to travel requirements.
Across rounds seven and eight, Fremantle coaches had both Mondays off but spent three days away from Perth to face the Western Bulldogs in Melbourne.
Hawthorn coaches, by comparison, had three days off away from the club in that period and did not travel.
Some coaches have suggested the high travel load and time away from home at WA clubs is a significant consideration for assistant coaches with young families looking at their next career move.
Adelaide assistant David Teague, who has also coached at West Coast and St Kilda, said he has found a great work-life balance with the Crows this season.
However, the rigid schedule of an AFL club was the biggest challenge for coaches.
"Your schedule is set out for you and there is no leniency, you train on this day, travel on this day and play on this day," he told AFL.com.au.
"Footy clubs do understand the people side of things, but there is no flexibility in terms of the schedule.
"On the flip side, it's a pretty exciting job. There are a lot of positive aspects and right now I would say my work-life balance is great."
Despite the high workload of assistant coaches in 2015 – many will spend hours on a laptop in the evening cutting reviews and scouting opponents – most believe they can continue for years with the same demands.
However, it means the off-season becomes an important period with family where increased annual leave would be welcomed.
"Clubs are a lot better than they used to be," one experienced assistant, who has been in the system as a player and coach for more than 20 years, told AFL.com.au.
"But it's like anything, if you over-work or train it's going to get to you and you won't have the same level of productivity.
"At the end of the day there are plenty of other jobs out there if you want them."