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Industrial Relations in Review – November 2018

Christmas – what you need to do to prepare

Directing an employee to take annual leave due to closure

With the Christmas period fast approaching, it is important to be aware of what you need to do if you are closing down over the break.

You should refer to the modern award that applies to determine the notice requirements. Most awards contain a provision that outlines when you can request an employee to take annual leave.

For example The General Retail Award 2010 states “An employer may require an employee to take annual leave as part of a close-down of its operations, by giving at least four weeks’ notice.”

If an award does not cover the employee, you can direct the employee to take annual leave, if the direction is ‘reasonable’. While reasonable isn’t defined, utilising the 4 weeks notice stipulated in most awards is a good guideline.

What if the employee doesn’t have enough annual leave accrued?

You can come to an agreement with the employee to either take leave without pay, or alternatively you may provide annual leave in advance to cover the period.

What about employees who continue to work?

Employees who work should be paid their normal rate of pay. If they work on a public holiday, they should be paid the applicable public holiday rates stipulated in the relevant Award. If the employee is not covered by an Award and they work on a public holiday, you may organise an additional day in lieu to be taken by the employee at a later date.

What are the public holidays over the Christmas/New Year period?

Tuesday 25th December 2018 – Christmas Day
Wednesday 26th December 2018 – Boxing Day
Tuesday 1st January 2019 – New Years Day

Christmas parties

Christmas is a great time to celebrate with colleagues and thank employees for their hard work throughout the year. With this in mind, it is important to remind employees prior to any work-organised event of the expected behaviours while attending a Christmas party. Please get in touch with us if you require a template letter to support with this.

Update to casual penalty rates for the General Retail Award 2010

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently handed down a decision to increase the casual rate of pay for work performed after 6pm Monday – Friday and on Saturdays in the General Retail Industry Award 2010, from the first full pay period on or after 1 November this year.

Who does the proposed increase apply to?

This increase will only apply to casual employees covered by the General Retail Industry Award 2010.

What are the changes?

The changes impact two penalties:

Evening work performed on a Monday – Friday after 6pm by casual employees
Saturday penalty for casual employees

These changes will be phased in, commencing from the first full pay period on of after 1 November 2018.

What are the new penalties for casuals?

Work after 6pm Monday to Friday: From 1 November 2018, a penalty payment of an additional 30% loading will apply for ordinary hours worked by a casual employee after 6pm (inclusive of the casual loading). This will increase to 35% from 1 October 2019, 40% from 1 March 2020, 45% from 1 October 2020 and lastly 50% from 1 March 2021.

Saturday penalty: From 1 November 2018, a penalty payment of an additional 40% loading will apply for ordinary hours worked by a casual employee on a Saturday (inclusive of the casual loading). This will increase to 45% from 1 October 2019 and lastly 50% from 1 March 2020 (inclusive of casual loading).

7 days to pay terminated employees

The Fair Work Commission recently handed down a decision to insert a provision into 89 Modern Awards, stating that an employee’s final pay must be made within 7 days of their final day of work.

A list of the awards impacted can be found under the heading ‘Attachment A’ in the Fair Work Commission decision.