Full bench to tackle abandonment of employment clauses

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Full bench to tackle abandonment of employment clauses

Abandonment of employment clauses in modern awards will be reviewed, after the president of the Fair Work Commission referred the matter to a full bench.

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Abandonment of employment clauses in modern awards are set to be reviewed.

Justice Iain Ross, president of the Commission, referred the issue to a full bench of the Fair Work Commission for inclusion in the modern awards review process following the decision in B v Iplex Pipelines Australia.

In this case it was held that the abandonment clause (clause 21) in the Manufacturing and Associated Industries Occupations Award 2010 could be interpreted as automatically terminating employment in certain circumstances. Such clauses are forbidden by s136 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cwlth).

There are several modern awards that contain similar clauses:

  • Business Equipment Award 2010
  • Contract Call Centres Award 2010
  • Graphic Arts, Printing & Publishing Award 2010
  • Manufacturing & Associated Industries & Occupations Award 2010
  • Nursery Award 2010
  • Wool Storage, Sampling & Testing Award 2010

Generally, these awards say that the failure of an employee to show up for work for three days (two days in the Business Equipment Award) without giving advance notice amounts to prima facie evidence that a worker has abandoned his or her employment. 

If an employee does not then establish within 14 days, to the satisfaction of the employer, that there was a reasonable cause for the absence then the employee is deemed to have abandoned his or her employment.

The Business Equipment Award has a seven day limit. The Wool Storage Award is more restrictive as an employee is deemed to have abandoned employment merely by being absent for three days without excuse.

See also:

Checklist – abandonment of employment
Abandonment of employment
Abandonment of employment (infographic)
Job abandoned: what happens to unclaimed monies?

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