Think your annual leave funds could be better used to stage the aggressive company take-over you’ve been plotting at work all these years? You’re in luck! Following a sweeping inquiry into annual leave provisions by the Fair Work Commission, reforms took place this week allowing Australians to cash out their annual leave. Cha-ching!
Annual leave hoarders rejoice! Under new reform, employees covered by most Australian workplace awards now have the option of cashing out some of their annual leave instead of using it in the traditional way – take time off work, jet off somewhere exotic, and get paid while you’re at it.
Under changes brought in by the Fair Work Commission, employees will now be able to cash out a maximum of two weeks of annual leave every 12 months, providing they still have at least four weeks leave available after doing so. The new clauses will affect nearly 2 million Aussies covered by modern awards – the basic pay and conditions safety nets for most jobs.
If this is how your contract is set up, then you’re eligible provided:
- you need to have at least 4 weeks annual leave leftover
- a written agreement needs to be made each time annual leave is cashed out
- your boss can’t force or pressure you to cash out annual leave
- the payment for cashed out annual leave has to be the same as what you would have been paid if you took the leave
In case you didn’t know, those of you covered by enterprise agreements at work, rather than modern awards, are already able to cash out portions of your annual leave.
But while cashing out sounds like a tempting option to workaholics everywhere, the question remains: just because you can, does it mean you should?
Business leaders pushed for the changes to allow for more flexible working arrangements and to curb “excessive” annual leave stockpiling by their most hard-working workers, but trade unions have warned the move could lead to workplace conditions being eroded.
While the captains of industry appear delighted, Australian Council of Trade Union secretary Dave Oliver has raised the yellow card, saying his concerns are with the wellbeing of employees and that reform could lead to an erosion of vital workplace conditions.
“The union movement is concerned that the decision by the Fair Work Commission supports the idea that annual leave need not be taken and should be treated as a commodity rather than an entitlement designed to maintain the health and wellbeing of the workforce,” he said.
“The fact that employees tend not to take the annual leave they have accrued indicates that employers are not creating work environments in which employees feel secure taking the leave that they have earnt.”
Taking a break is vital to anyone’s health, sanity, and ability to do good work. So if you’re thinking cold hard cash is more important that much-needed zen time, sure, go for it. Just find other ways to take time out when you can, and remember, all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl. Personally, we’re all for the actual leave’n.