Reserve service leave


Reserve service leave

On 11 October 1999, the Leader of the Opposition introduced a Bill to amend the Workplace Relations Act 1996.


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On 11 October 1999, the Leader of the Opposition introduced a Bill to amend the Workplace Relations Act 1996. The core of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Australian Defence Force Service and Training) Bill 1999 is to ensure that leave for employees participating as members of the Australian Defence Force Reserves is an allowable award matter. According to Mr. Beazley, "(r)eserves must now be recurited and given certainty in terms of their employment and their capacity whilst in their employment to be trained properly for circumstances of danger in which they may find themselves." In essence, the Leader of the Opposition argued that as Reserve training leave is not an allowable matter, this impinges upon the availability of Reserves to training which in turn is critical to maintaining competent defence capabilities. 

The Minister assisting the Minister for Defence, Mr. Bruce Scott, was critical of the Bill, claiming that the certainty required by Mr. Beazley was manifested in the existing provisions of the Defence (Re-Establishment) Act 1965. Part II of the Actserves to prevent employers from penalising or prejudicing employees because of their service. More specifically,

  • an employer shall not hinder or prevent a person from volunteering for service, or servicing in part of the Reserve Forces (sec 8);
  • an employer shall not penalise or prejudice a person by reducing wages or dismissing them because the employee is serving in the Reserve Forces (sec 9);

As such the Bill was unnecessary, in the Minister's view, as there already exist protections for all members of the Reserve Forces in relation to their civilian employment. Claiming, that Mr. Beazley's introduction of this Bill fails to stand up to scrutiny, the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business noted that:

"If employers and employees wish to prescribe more comprehensive provisions in relation to service with the Defence Force they may always make a formal agreement (collective or individual) on the matter."

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