Annual Leave

Annual Leave for full-time workers in Australia is 4 weeks per calendar year and forms part of the National Employment Standards (NES).

The NES applies to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system, regardless of any award, agreement or contract.

This includes the award for call centres known as the Contract Call Centres Award 2020.

The NES includes the minimum entitlements to annual leave, how and when annual leave can be taken, and the pay rate employees should receive.

Common questions about annual leave

Do casual call centre workers also receive annual leave?

No.

The premise behind casual work is that you get paid a premium above the standard full-time rate as compensation for the fact you don’t accrue any annual leave or sick leave entitlements.

There was some media around 2020 after a Federal Court decision ruled in favour of paying a casual employee annual leave however as with most things, the devil is in the detail. For that particular case, there was an argument over whether the employee was considered a casual worker or a permanent part-time employee.

Permanent part-time workers are entitled to annual leave, and in this court ruling, given the particular circumstances of the case, they decided that whilst the employee had been employed as a casual worker, he should have been classified as a permanent part-time employee and therefore was entitled to annual leave.

What is Leave Loading?

For some industry sectors employees receive a leave loading on top of their annual leave payment.

The leave loading rate can be as high as 17.5% depending on your award, enterprise agreement or contract.

So when you receive your annual leave pay, if you are eligible you will also receive a nice 17.5% bonus!

 

 

Does permanent part-time work also accrue annual leave?

Yes, part-time call centres workers are entitled to annual leave and the rate is accrued pro-rata.

So if you worked 25 hours per week you would still get four weeks holidays, paid at the 25 hours per week rate.

Can an employer refuse my annual leave request?

The employer must not unreasonably refuse an employee’s request to take annual leave. What constitutes a reasonable refusal however depends on a number of things, for example:

  • The period during which the employee wants to take leave;
  • The operational requirements of the business during that leave period;
  • Whether the employee taking leave at that time would be detrimental to the business;
  • Whether the employee gave reasonable notice of wanting to take leave at that time.

An employer can also reasonably refuse if the employee does not have any accrued leave to take.

If I often work overtime, shift work etc is that included in my annual leave calculations?

No. Annual leave is generally paid at the employee’s base pay rate for all ordinary hours worked unless an award or registered agreement provides otherwise. Ordinary hours under the NES cannot exceed 38 hours in a week. The base rate does not include:

  • overtime rates
  • penalties
  • allowances
  • bonuses

Can you cash out your annual leave?

Some awards and registered agreements allow annual leave to be cashed out and provide conditions under which the leave can be cashed out. Most awards or agreements require:

  • written agreement between the employer and employee that is signed by both parties;
  • The employee to be paid as much as if they had taken the annual leave;
  • Capping the amount of leave that is able to be cashed out to a maximum of two weeks of annual leave in any 12 month period.

There is some provision for cashing out annual leave in the Contract Call Centre Award however it’s a pretty complex area (and you may not be under that award anyway). Seek professional help!

 

 

Can I be forced to take my annual leave?

Mmm. This is a tough one.

Most modern awards permit employers to direct their employees to take a period of annual leave during a shutdown. Many modern awards include a standard term in relation to this and in the case of the Contract Call Centre Award, there is provision for this provided at least one months notice is provided.

The term shutdown however it important, as it is different from what’s known as a standdown.

A shutdown typically relates to an annual period where the business is closed e.g. over Christmas.

The Fair Work Act 2009 allows employers to stand employees down without pay in certain circumstances when employees cannot be usefully employed. It may be possible for employees to be usefully employed performing other work for the employer rather than being stood down.

When it comes to COVID, it’s not surprising to learn that it’s complicated!

Under the Fair Work Act Jobkeeper provisions, a qualifying employer can:

  • request an eligible employee to take paid annual leave
  • agree in writing with an eligible employee for them to take annual leave at half pay for twice the length of time.

Again, we would recommend seeking professional assistance if you find yourself in this situation.

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