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annual leave

Unions resist employer push on annual leave

Australian Unions are resisting a push by employer groups that could see workers never taking annual leave.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said around two million Australian workers could be impacted by the employers’ push for a clause to be entered into awards allowing annual leave to be cashed out.

The employer move comes during the current review of modern awards being conducted by the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

“Annual leave is for rest and recreation. Exchanging it for cash defeats its purpose,” Ms Kearney said.

“The employers say excessive leave is a problem and they need capacity to manage leave accruals. We don’t accept that cashing out is the answer,” Ms Kearney said.

The CWU agrees that so-called “excessive” leave i.e. the accumulation of large leave balances is a different issue from cashing out and should be dealt with separately in awards and/or agreements.

The union also agrees that a cashing out provision can be a double edged sword for employees. For many employees the prospect of getting some quick cash from leave entitlements may be attractive – but there may be longer term consequences for health and well-being if leave is not taken regularly. 

The CWU considers that the issue is best dealt with at the Enterprise Agreement (EA) level, as is the case in the current Telstra EA, rather than in awards. That allows the development of more specific provisions about cashing out and gives employees, through the agreement making process, the chance to have input into those provisions.

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