Minimum conditions of employment - SA, WA, Tasmania, NT, ACT

Analysis

Minimum conditions of employment - SA, WA, Tasmania, NT, ACT

With the probability of the Federal Government introducing new federal workplace legislation later in the year, references have been made to various state or territory employment legislation which will continue to provide a 'safety net' for certain employment conditions.

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Updates: 10/7/06

With the probability of the Federal Government introducing new federal workplace legislation later in the year, references have been made to various state or territory employment legislation which will continue to provide a 'safety net' for certain employment conditions. The question is: what is actually provided as minimum conditions by state and territory legislation?

Historically, state and territory governments have been slow in legislating minimum conditions of employment for workers not covered by the federal system, leaving the setting of minimum employment conditions to the appropriate state industrial tribunal.

Depending on the detail of the proposed federal workplace changes, the minimum employment conditions prescribed by state legislation may become increasingly relevant to employment conditions.

The following commentary summarises the minimum employment conditions in each state and territory that are currently prescribed by legislation.

Overview

In recent days, the Federal Government has intimated that various state employment legislation may provide certain minimum employment conditions, in the absence of specific federal legislation. Examples of employment conditions referred to by federal government representatives include meal breaks and entitlement to public holidays. However, there is a general lack of state employment legislation which provides for such specific employment conditions.

Some jurisdictions, such as Queensland and Western Australia, have state employment legislation which provide basic employment entitlements for all workers in that state, but this is an exception. In referring to state employment legislation, however, it should be noted that a federal certified agreement or an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) currently override any state or territory legislation, and this is not expected to change under any new federal workplace system.

The following is a summary of minimum employment conditions which are prescribed by relevant legislation in SA, WA, Tasmania, NT and ACT. A previous article covered NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
 
South Australia

The minimum conditions of employment for workers in South Australia are governed by different pieces of legislation. The Fair Pay Act 1994 [SA] provides for minimum entitlements to conditions such as annual leave, sick/carer's leave, bereavement leave and parental leave for all South Australian workers .

Minimum wage for all low paid: The Fair Work Act 1994 requires the SA Industrial Relations Commission to set a minimum wage that will provide a safety net for workers who have no award protection. The Commission is expected to hand-down its first decision in August 2005.

Annual leave: The Act provides for an entitlement of four weeks annual leave each year for any employee, with an entitlement on termination of employment to 1/3rd of one week's annual leave for each completed month of service.

Long service leave: The minimum conditions for long service leave are prescribed by the Long Service Leave Act 1987 [SA], which provides for 13 weeks leave after 10 years of continuous service with the one employer. An employee is entitled to payment of pro rata leave upon termination of employment, except for serious and wilful misconduct, after seven years continuous service with the one employer. There is no pro rata entitlement to long service leave upon termination for an employee with less than seven years service.

Sick/carer's leave: The Act provides a full-time or part-time employee with a sick leave entitlement of 5/26th's of one day for each completed week of service in the first year of employment, with an entitlement to ten days sick leave at the commencement of each subsequent year. An employee is may use up to five days sick leave each year as carer's leave to care for a member of employee's family when they are ill.

Bereavement leave: The Act provides a full-time or part-time employee with an entitlement to two days bereavement leave in the case of the death of a member of the employee's family. 'Family' includes a spouse, parent, child, any other member of the employee's household, or any other person who is dependant on the person's care.

Parental leave: The Act provides for up to 52 weeks unpaid parental leave, ie. maternity, paternity and adoption leave, after twelve months continuous service with the employer.

Public holidays: The Holidays Act 1910 [SA] prescribes public holidays which are applicable to an employee employed under a contract of employment.

Western Australia

The Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993 [WA] provides a considerable number of employment conditions which apply to any employee employed under a written contract of employment in that State.

Minimum wage: The Act prescribes a minimum wage for adult full-time and casual employees, employees under 21 years of age, and apprentices and trainees. The current adult full-time weekly wage is currently $484.40, with the adult casual minimum hourly rate being $15.30 per hour (representing a casual loading of 20% divided by 38).

Annual leave: The Act provides for four weeks annual leave for all full-time and part-time employees not covered by an industrial instrument. The leave is cumulative if not taken in the year in which it first falls. The Act also allows an employer and employee to agree that up to 50% of an annual leave entitlement may be foregone for an equivalent benefit (usually cash).

Sick leave: The Act provides that full-time and part-time employees are entitled to up to 76 hours paid sick leave. Casual employees are not entitled to sick leave. The Act does not provide for an accumulation of sick leave.

Carer's leave: The Act provides that a full-time or part-time employee is entitled to use up to five days sick leave each year as carer's leave. Carer's leave can be taken to care for members of the immediate family or household, as well as extended family members such as a parent, grandparent, adult child or sibling.

Bereavement leave: The Act prescribes that all employees are entitled to two days bereavement leave on the death of a spouse or de facto partner, child or step child, parent or step parent or any other person, who immediately before that person's death, lived with the employee as a member of the employee's family.

Parental leave: From 4 July 2006 the Act increased the available period of unpaid parental leave to 104 weeks. Before that the Act specified that either parent, who is a full-time or part-time employee with at least 12 months continuous service with the employer, is entitled to up to 52 weeks unpaid parental leave, ie. maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave, upon the birth or adoption of a child. Casuals are not entitled to parental leave.

Job search leave: The Act provides that employees who have been made redundant are entitled to paid leave of up to eight hours, subject to the production of satisfactory evidence, for the purpose of being interviewed for new jobs.

Long service leave: see: Long service leave - Western Australia - from July 2006.

Public holidays: The Public & Bank Holidays Act 1972 [WA] provides for the fixing of 10 public holidays by the State Government each year.

Tasmania

The Industrial Relations Act 1984 [Tas] does not prescribe across-the-board minimum conditions of employment for non-award/agreement employees, however, it does provide minimum employment conditions where a non-award/agreement employee is entering into an enterprise agreement. These minimum conditions of employment include a State minimum wage, four weeks annual leave, sick leave of five days in the first year and eight days thereafter, and up to 52 weeks unpaid parental leave after 12 months continuous service with the employer.

Long service leave: The Long Service Leave Act 1976 [Tas] provides for 13 weeks long service leave after 15 years continuous service with the employer. An employee is entitled to payment of pro rata long service leave upon termination of employment, eg. terminated by the employer other than for serious and wilful misconduct, retirement, illness or incapacity, domestic or other pressing necessity, having completed between seven years and 15 years continuous service.

Public holidays: The Statutory Holidays Act 2000 [Tas] provides for the fixing of state-wide public holidays and regional holidays.

Northern Territory

The conditions of employment for most employees in the Northern Territory are governed by a federal award or federal certified agreement. Minimum conditions of employment for all other employees in the Territory are generally restricted to annual leave, long service leave and public holidays.

Annual leave: The Annual Leave Act [NT] provides for four weeks annual leave per year for all employees not covered by an industrial instrument, with seven day shift workers entitled to five weeks leave each year. On termination of employment, an ordinary employee is paid pro rata leave at the rate of 3.08 hours for each completed week of service, whilst a seven-day shift worker is entitled to 3.85 hours for each completed week of service as a seven-day shift worker. Where an employee's ordinary weekly hours are less than 40, the pro rata hours drop proportionately.

Long service leave: The Long Service Leave Act [NT] provides for thirteen weeks leave after ten years continuous service with the employer. An employee is entitled to pro rata leave upon termination of employment, at the rate of 1.3 weeks per year, having completed between seven and ten years continuous service, except if the employee is dismissed for serious misconduct.

Public holidays: The Public Holidays Act [NT] provides for the observance of ten public holidays each year throughout the Territory.

Australian Capital Territory

The conditions of employment for most employees in the Australian Capital Territory are governed by a federal award or federal certified agreement. Minimum conditions of employment for all other employees in the ACT are generally restricted to annual leave, long service leave and public holidays.

Annual leave: The Annual Leave Act 1973 [ACT] provides for four weeks annual leave each year, with seven-day shift workers being entitled to five weeks annual leave each year.

Long service leave: The Long Service Leave Act 1976 [ACT] provides for two months leave after 10 years continuous service with the employer. An employee, under certain circumstances, is entitled to payment of pro rata leave upon termination of employment having completed between five and 10 years continuous service with the employer.

Public holidays: The Holidays Act 1958 [ACT] provides for the observance of eleven public holidays each year throughout the ACT.

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