21 May 2024
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Double holidays are coming for workers but there’ll be a price

Peter Switzer
16 April 2024

Imagine you’re an employee who’d love to double your annual holiday leave. How good would that be if you had caring responsibilities and needed the time? And then imagine you were told the ACTU and employer groups were close to agreeing to the proposition.

All this would be employee heaven, except for one thing, if you double your holidays, you’ll have to take it at half-pay.

The AFR’s David Marin-Guzman says many employers agree to the concept in principal but want to be able to refuse the option, but unions say that a “no” has to be based on “reasonableness criteria”.

The unions back the move for caring responsibilities for workers and to add work-life balance options into employees’ lives.

Right now, few awards permit this holiday-pay innovation, despite the pandemic bringing in temporary changes that allowed half-pay options.

Employer groups, such as the Australian Industry Group, back the idea. But Innes Willox, CEO of AIG says “it is essential that it is only able to be used if an individual employer and employee agree to it”.

Willox points to the problems for a business to accommodate long-term absences and he (and other employer groups) argue that employees can’t have a unilateral right to double their leave whenever they like, as it could undermine a business.

Right now, along with other award changes, the Fair Work Commission is considering this option to help workers cover their caring responsibilities and is looking at a potential right for an employee to request to work from home!

The FWC is also looking at changing ordinary time hours for remote workers beyond the usual 9-5 time period.

These changes are expected by mid-year and given the employer support for many of these reforms, workers look set to have more flexibility in the workplace, but it’s likely to be based on mutual agreement between boss and employee.

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