Four year Modern Award Review update

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The four yearly Modern Award Review continues. Master Electricians Australia (MEA) is presenting oppositions to applications from the ACTU and the CEPU in the following areas:


Domestic Violence Leave


The ACTU has made an application to introduce an entitlement to 10 paid days a year for family and domestic violence leave.  MEA understands that domestic violence is a growing concern in the community and that domestic violence of any form is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.  Any person who is a victim or suspects domestic violence should report their concerns to the relevant authorities.    

However, the application by the ACTU includes further unlimited unpaid leave for full time and part time employees, the right to request flexible working hours plus 10 days unpaid entitlement for casuals.

The ACTU application states the leave would be used for purposes such as attending court and related appointments, seeking legal advice and making new living arrangements.

MEA will be opposing the ACTU’s application across all awards on the basis that the current legislation and award system allows for appropriate flexibility and time off in order for employees affected to take measures to address this issue. 

MEA is seeking feedback from members who have been faced with a situation where they have had to assist/manage an employee(s) who have been involved in domestic violence either as a victim or a perpetrator.  If any members would like to relay their experiences in managing these types of situations please call the Workplace Relations Team for a confidential conversation.  


Family Friendly Work Arrangements

The ACTU also have applied to mandate that employees returning for parental leave have a unilateral right to elect to return on a part-time basis.

It is the ACTU’s claim that employees returning from parental leave are often unable to avail their right to return to their substantive (full time) position because of their new caring responsibilities. They submit that the Fair Work Act does not provide employees with meaningful assistance. The ‘flexible work arrangements’ already contained in the legislation requires that the employer’s refusal be on ‘reasonable business grounds’ and to state the reason for refusal in writing within 21 days of receiving the request.

The ACTU has long been vexed by the fact that unless employees have the right to do so under the provisions of a workplace agreement, there is no process where they can appeal an employer’s refusal.

Further, the claim seeks to guarantee an employee an entitlement to the conditions of employment after the period of flexible working arrangements. Their view is that it is unfair in circumstances where an employee accepts a permanent change to employment to an alternative position. They believe this has a long term detrimental effect on the employee’s career development and earnings capacity.

The proposal would allow the employee to exercise this right at any time, subject to reasonable notice provisions, within two years of the date of birth or placement of the child.

MEA will also oppose this application on the basis that previous reviews of the Fair Work framework have found no need to change this condition.

MEA is seeking feedback from members on the impact that this change will have on managing their business and the advantages and or difficulties they may face if this application was successful. Please call the Workplace Relations Team for a confidential conversation.  


Licence Allowance Claims

The CEPU have given an indication that they will be seeking an increase in the Electricians Licence Allowance in the Electrical Contracting Modern Award early next year as part of the 4 year Modern Award Review.  As a precursor the CEPU are seeking to include a licence allowance in other awards that cover electricians; the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award and the Electrical Power Industry Award. As part of this application they seek to set a ‘common high watermark’ of 4.55% per week which we believe will then be subject of a flow on application to the Electrical Contracting Award.  .

MEA and Ai Group strongly oppose the CEPU’s claims to insert an ‘electrical licence allowance’ into the Manufacturing Award and Electrical Power Award.

This claim is yet another attempt by the CEPU, in a long line of unsuccessful attempts over many decades, to achieve higher remuneration for electricians than the remuneration that applies to other equivalent classifications such as fitters, boilermakers, etc.

The FWC has set hearing dates for the two current awards for February 2016 and MEA will be representing members.  We would like to thank those Members who have assisted MEA with relevant witness statements that have assisted in our preparation for this case.