Employers risk fines if they refuse leave for union rally

October 14, 2018

Employers who refuse to allow their employees to take leave to attend this month’s Australia Needs A Payrise union rally may be breaking Australia’s workplace laws.

Leading industrial law firm Maurice Blackburn says under the Fair Work Act, employees have a right not to be discriminated against because of their political opinion.

Employees also have a right to participate in lawful activities organised by their union, and are entitled to request annual leave to attend the rally.

Josh Bornstein, Maurice Blackburn’s national head of employment and industrial law, said employers cannot unreasonably refuse to allow employees to take annual leave.

“The right to protest is a fundamental tenet of a democratic society,” Mr Bornstein said.

“If an employer refuses to allow an employee to take leave to attend the rally, it could amount to adverse action under the Fair Work Act.”

Mr Bornstein said corporate employers who breach the Fair Work Act could be liable for a fine of up to $63,000 per contravention.

Individuals who breach the Fair Work Act or are involved in contraventions of the Fair Work Act could be liable for fines of up to $12,600 per contravention.

The Australia Needs a Payrise rally will be held on Tuesday 23 October in Melbourne, as part of the union movement’s “Change The Rules” campaign for better pay and more secure jobs for workers.

Mr Bornstein said Maurice Blackburn Lawyers is authorising and encouraging its employees to attend the rally.

“Maurice Blackburn has been fighting for workers’ rights for almost 100 years. We support our staff’s choice to exercise their democratic right and call on all other employers to do the same.”

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