The ABCC is reminding all building industry participants ahead of nation-wide rallies on 10 April and a Brisbane rally on 27 March to familiarise themselves with their rights and responsibilities.

Employees who are rostered to work on the day and want to attend a rally should get permission to take time off work from their employer. Employers must not unreasonably refuse requests by employees to take annual leave.

If an employee fails to get permission to leave work they may be taking unlawful industrial action which could lead to civil penalty proceedings. 

What should employees do?

Ask to take time off - If employees want to attend the rally they should talk to their employer about whether they can have time off work. 

Get written confirmation – If the employer gives permission to have time off work to attend the rally, employees should ask their employer to confirm the permission in writing.

Your pay – If an employee attends the rally without permission from their employer, they are not able to be paid for the period of the absence (or four hours, whichever is greater). It is also unlawful for employees to ask their employer to pay them for any period when they are not at work as a result of taking unlawful industrial action. 

What should employers do?

Be reasonable about annual leave requests - Employers can allow employees to be absent from work to attend a rally (for example by allowing employees to use their annual leave). Annual leave must be agreed to by both the employee and the employer. Employers must not unreasonably refuse a request to take annual leave.

Inform employees of their rights and obligations

  • Prior to the rally, employers may want to discuss the rally with their employees. 
  • Employers may want to inform their employees that it is unlawful for the employer to pay its employees for any period when they are not at work taking unlawful industrial action.
  • Employers may want to provide copies of the ABCC Fact Sheet on taking strike action to their employees.

Keep your records – Employers should keep a record of any employees who were given permission to leave work to attend the rally along with any employees who left work to attend the rally without permission.

What about employers covered by the Building Code?

Code covered entities must report to the ABCC as soon as practicable but no later than 24 hours after becoming aware of industrial action:

  • any actual or threatened protected or unprotected industrial action by their employees on Commonwealth funded building sites.
  • any actual or threatened unprotected industrial action by their employees on privately funded building sites.

Code covered entities who have authorised their employees to take time off do not need to report employee absences to the ABCC.

Whether an employer gives permission or authorises employees to be absent (to attend rallies or otherwise) is a matter for the employer and their workforce.

 What is the ABCC going to do before the rallies?

Prior to the rallies, the ABCC will be undertaking a range of education activities to inform employers and employees of their rights and responsibilities. 

The ABCC is available at any time to provide advice and assistance to employers and employees.  Further information on these requirements can be found on the ABCC website under industrial action. Alternatively, you can call the ABCC Hotline on 1800 003 338.