Harvey Norman signed worker to ‘invalid’ AWA

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Harvey Norman signed worker to ‘invalid’ AWA

Retail giant Harvey Norman has been accused of taking advantage of confusion over the IR laws and continuing to sign workers up to AWAs after they were banned.

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Retail giant Harvey Norman has been accused of taking advantage of confusion over the IR laws and continuing to sign workers up to AWAs after they were banned.

Media reports in Melbourne yesterday said a worker had been signed up to an AWA in May that paid a flat rate of $15.29 an hour with no penalty rates. All AWAs not signed by 27 March this year or lodged by 11 April are invalid.

ACTU president Sharan Burrow said Harvey Norman had been caught red-handed using an unfair AWA, months after they were banned, to cut the take-home pay of a sales worker by up to $146 a week, depending on sales commission. This could be less than the award for a typical roster.

Taking advantage

She said this shows a major employer is taking advantage of confusion over the IR laws and the fact that WorkChoices has not yet been fully scrapped to rip-off a worker.

‘It is shocking to see a major highly profitable retailer like Harvey Norman taking advantage of the confusing remnants of WorkChoices by using AWAs,’ Burrow said.

‘This AWA contains draconian clauses allowing the company to sack a worker without notice for minor misconduct and a demand to keep the rates of pay “confidential”.'

‘This is the kind of thing that voters rejected at last year’s election.'

AWAs have been scrapped
 
‘Business needs to wake up to the fact that AWAs have been scrapped and they need to overhaul their employment practices to reflect the move to fairer and more balanced IR laws. 

‘It is disappointing to see a major employer still not understanding that these kinds of job contracts are not only unfair for workers but are misleading.’ 

A human resources officer at Harvey Norman's Sydney head office told The Age employment paperwork and the hiring of staff was handled by Harvey Norman franchises, not head office.

‘You'd have to contact the store itself,’ she said. She would not say if franchisees were told to stop offering AWAs.

No AWA, no job

The Age said a cover letter from Harvey Norman, dated in May, asked the employee to sign the AWA, explaining that if it was not signed the job offer would be terminated.

A spokeswoman for the Workplace Authority, which handles the lodgement of AWAs, confirmed that any agreement not signed by 27 March or lodged by 11 April this year would be invalid, and the employee would then revert to the award or agreement that covered the industry.

A spokesman for watchdog the Workplace Ombudsman said it would investigate if they received a complaint.

The employer risks being in breach of the Act and of ‘inappropriately’ paying the employee, the spokesman said.


Related

Darrell Lea fined $120,000 over AWA duress

Govt will ‘keep most of WorkChoices’ say Greens, unionist

 

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