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A Shift in Calculating Personal/Carer’s Leave

The Fair Work Commission (“FWC”) recently handed down its decision in AWU v AstraZeneca Pty Ltd [2018] FWC 4660. The case is being described as a landmark decision on personal/carer’s leave for shift workers.

A dispute arose between AstraZeneca Pty Ltd (“the Company”) and the Australian Workers Union (“AWU”) in relation to how shift workers employed by the Company accrued personal /carer’s leave and whether the Company’s current practice of calculating personal/carer’s leave of shift workers was in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 (“FWA”).  

According to section 96 of the FWA, full time employees are entitled to 10 days of personal/carers leave. This totals to 76 hours of leave per year based on a standard 7.6 hour work day.

The AWU submitted that personal/carers leave should be calculated based on the worker’s typical shift meaning that an employee who works a 12-hours shift should accrue to 120 hours of leave.

The FWC held that shift workers employed by the Company who work 12 and 10 hour shift rosters should have their sick leave entitlements calculated on the basis of their ‘typical’ work days.

While this is an important decision that employers and shift workers should be aware of, there is currently a separate case before the Federal Court in relation to the correct interpretation of section 96 of the Fair Work Act and its application to shift workers.

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