The nation's workplace watchdog has thrown out a union bid which would have seen enforced public holiday payments to employees not rostered to work.
In a judgement handed down on Friday, the Fair Work Commission ruled that the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ (ACTU) bid for compensation payments to full-time employees who do not work a standard five-day, Monday-to-Friday week and part-time employees who work five days or more per week over a four-week cycle.
The ACTU had claimed that when a public holiday fell on a day when an employee was not rostered, the worker should have received either an extra day's wages, an alternative day off, or an extra day of annual leave.
The ACTU also applied to the FWC to disallow rostered days off to fall on a scheduled public holiday, along with a 50% loading – in addition to existing loadings – be paid when Christmas Day fell on a weekend.
Yet the commission full bench rejected each element of the claim. FWC President Iain Ross commented that the ACTU’s claim relating to employees working non-standard hours wasn’t without merit, but ultimately found there was insufficient information to adequately assess the impact of the proposed change.
The Australian Industry Group said in a statement that it supported the FWC’s finding, and that had the claim gone through, it would have been costly and unproductive and a burden to employers. “The sensible decision of the Full Bench is very welcome as the unions’ claims would have saddled industry with a big new cost at a time when many businesses are under pressure,” Australian Industry Group, Chief Executive, Innes Willox said.
If the ACTU’s claims had been accepted:
Thousands of shift workers and other employees would have been entitled to receive a work day off, an extra day of annual leave or an extra day’s pay when public holidays fell on a non-work day, including when they fell on the weekend (e.g. Easter Saturday and Sunday)
Part-time employees would have received a work day off, an extra day of annual leave or an extra day’s pay when public holidays fell on days that they do not ordinarily work
Higher penalties would have been payable when Christmas Day fell on a weekend.
"Thankfully, the Commission has rejected the unions’ claims and preserved the longstanding existing arrangements," Willox said.