21 August 2019

The National Employment Standards require all full-time workers to be given a minimum of ten days’ paid sick leave. For years, many bosses have been rorting this system by interpreting “day” as “7.6 hours” — even if their workers are required to work a standard ten- or twelve-hour shift. When the owners of a chocolate factory tried to impose the same scam on its workers (with the support of the Coalition government), the AMWU resisted. And the Full Court of the Federal Court agreed with the union: ten days means ten days. The flow-on effects of this decision will be significant, because the Fair Work Ombudsman has been wrongly advising employers to rip off sick workers for years. In earlier comments about this issue, AWU national secretary Daniel Walton said [$], “This potentially affects every employer in the country that employs shift workers. … Employers who have been taking the FWO’s advice and only paying their employees for 7.[6] hours when they are missing 12-hour shifts on leave are likely liable to backpay stretching back six years. Ten days’ leave should mean 10 days leave — and those who happen to work 12-hour shifts should not be disadvantaged.” Check your pay slips!