The ABCC is reminding all building industry participants ahead of nation-wide rallies on 10 April to familiarise themselves with their rights and responsibilities in relation to workers who wish to attend a rally.
Employees who are rostered to work 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 paid annual leave.
If an employee fails to get prior written permission from their employer to leave rostered 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 who are rostered to work want to attend the rally they should talk to their employer about whether they can attend during work time or take leave to attend.
Get written confirmation – If the employer gives permission to attend the rally during work time, employees should ask their employer to confirm the permission in writing.
Your pay – If an employee attends the rally during their work hours without prior written 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). Employers must not unreasonably refuse an employee’s 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 this tip sheet to their employees.
What about employers covered by the Building Code 2016?
Code covered entities must report to the ABCC as soon as practicable but no later than 24 hours after becoming aware of:
- 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 authorises employees to be absent (to attend rallies or otherwise) is generally a matter for the employer and their workforce.
We’re here to help
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.
New app content about rallies now available
The ABCC has released new guidance about rallies for employees and employers in the ABCC On Site app.
The new section will help employees understand what steps to take to lawfully attend a rally, and what will happen to their pay if they miss work to attend.
It will help employers understand their options if their employees want to attend a rally, and what the rules are about paying employees who leave work to attend.