You may or may not be aware of this, but for those of you who don’t, here’s the skinny.
The Fair Work Commission put a heap of updates into a big number of modern awards earlier this year; 112 of them, to be exact. Those changes quietly came into effect this week.
Among other changes, the real notable/juicy/spicy burrito one states that if you have excess annual leave stored up, you can opt to ask your employer to pay you out for it instead of taking it.
The awards now stipulate that an employee is entitled to cash out up to two weeks of annual leave every 12 months, provided that they still have four weeks remaining and available afterwards.
You and your bosses have to agree to the payout in writing (meaning they can’t force you to give up two weeks if you’ve got a shitload of holidays saved up) and the amount you’ll get cannot be any less than the amount you would’ve been paid if you decided to sod off for two weeks off at the time of the agreement.
The amendments have been met with a mixed response from business leaders (who applauded it) and unions (who are sceptical).
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver stated that the new rules meant workplaces were not providing employees with the encouragement to actually take annual leave, and that they were slowly turning leave into a commodity.
“The fact that employees tend not to take the annual leave they have accrued indicates that employers are not creating work environments in which employees feel secure taking the leave that they have earned.”
On the flipside, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce Justin Pearson said the move would help businesses better manage leave conditions.
“While employers did not get everything they wanted, the reasonable changes will help businesses better manage annual leave.”
In a slightly worrying move for workers, however, the changes also include greater or extended powers for employers to force employees to take or use their excessive leave. But, conversely, a lot of employers can also now grant leave requests in advance. Swings, roundabouts, etc.
The next major date for the Fair Work Commission is set for September, where the long and bitter battle over the proposed reduction of weekend penalty rates is due.
So uh, y’know. You might want to keep an eye out for that one.