In AWU v AstraZeneca Pty Ltd  FWC 4660 (8 August 2018), the Fair Work Commission (the “FWC”) has handed down a ruling against AstraZeneca where the company was using the standard industry practise of providing an average of 76 hours of paid leave, based on the average of a 7.6 hour working day. In this case, the decision centred on a personal/carer’s leave dispute between the AWU and the company.
The dispute at AstraZeneca (which centred on a pay deal for employees) challenged how those 10 days worth of sick leave are calculated, with the AWU claiming the entitlement should be calculated based on the length of shifts completed by shift workers who work 12-hour or greater shifts.
Currently, full-time employees who work standard 38-hour work weeks are entitled to 10 days worth of personal/carer’s leave, or sick leave, per year as per provisions set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
The Australian Workers Union (the “AWU”) submitted that a worker's typical shift [at AstraZeneca] should be used to calculate the total number of hours, meaning a shift-worker who usually does a 12 hour shift should receive 120 hours of paid leave per year and not 10 days’ worth of leave based an average of a 7.6 hour working day.
In handing down the ruling in favour of the AWU, Deputy President Dean said [at para 75]:
Thequotes AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton as saying the decision "... potentially affects every employer in the country that employs shift-workers."
Mr Walton has written to the Fair Work Ombudsman demanding it correct the "bum advice" it has been giving to employers, which the FWC had contradicted:
Speaking to the, a spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said the company was reviewing "and considering carefully" the FWC’s comments, with the spokeswoman saying further:
While the AstraZeneca case has alarmed business groups and employers,reports that a separate case currently before the Federal Court is looking to overturn the decision made by the Commission, seeking clarification around the correct interpretation of personal/carer’s leave when it comes to shift workers.
A second case revolves around an Enterprise Agreement made at Mondelez Australia’s manufacturing plant, which provides shift workers with 96 hours of personal/carer’s leave per year, keeping in line with the 10-day rule but above the usual 76 hours provided to most Australian workers.
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AWU v AstraZeneca Pty Ltd  FWC 4660 (8 August 2018)
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