Take a break...NOW
Fair Work Commission moves to tidy up leave around shutdowns.
Wednesday 01 November 2017
Interested parties have just over a week to seek changes to proposed new rules governing leave during major mine shutdowns.
As part of a four-year review of the Coal Mining Industry Award, a group known as the Coal Mining Industry Employers Group (CMIEG) has been agitating for changes to a clause which would give employers more power to force people to take leave when there is nothing to do at work during a shutdown.
Under the current award, in the event of a shutdown employees - with a month's warning - can either take paid annual accrued leave - or if they don't have enough holiday accrued, they can take paid leave in advance.
Under the proposed new wording, employees would now have three options. They can still take accrued, or future annual paid leave, but they can also now take unpaid leave.
However, the Fair Work Commission has also added two further parts to the clause which give the boss the ability to force employees to take paid accrued or future leave if they don’t choose one of the three options mentioned above.
The FWC has also clarified what happens on public holidays.
“If a temporary shutdown period includes a day or part-day that is a public holiday and would have been a working day for the employee had the employee not been on leave in accordance with clause 25.10, the employee is taken not to be on leave on that day or part-day.”
Unions who have been contesting the change have until next Wednesday to lodge their concerns before the clause in the Coal Mining Award is updated.
In August the Federal Court endorsed a decision made by the Fair Work Commission in January that will see redundancy payouts for miners capped at 30 weeks.
For more than 30 years, miners made redundant in the coal sector were entitled to 1 weeks severance pay and two weeks redundancy pay for every year of employment.
So under the old rules, for a lifelong employee at Peak Downs mine earning average mining wages, redundancy and severance at the end of their 30-year career could be 90 weeks of normal pay and worth more than $250,000.
For that reason, these scenarios were often referred to as the “golden handshake” in mining circles.
However, in what was the biggest change to the Black Coal Industry Award since at least the 1980’s, a full Bench of the FWC decided in January that redundancy payments will be paid at the rate of two weeks a year, for no longer than 15 years. The severance payment of one week per year remained unchanged.