March 9, 2018

TWU members work in time-critical industries and many will be punching the clock across the entire Labour Day weekend to ensure everybody else can enjoy the time off.

Planes wouldn’t take off, party supplies wouldn’t get delivered to shops, buses wouldn’t operate and the garbage wouldn’t be collected….the list goes on and on.

The Labour Day long weekend commemorates the achievements of the Australian labour movement and has its origins in one of the first and greatest victories for workers – .

Fun fact – the first organised workers in the world to fight for and achieve an 8-hr day with no loss of pay were Melbourne builders in 1856.

A quick backgrounder on Labour Day:

The argument for the eight-hour day was based on the need for each person to have eight hours labour, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest.

On 21 April 1856 Stonemasons and building workers on building sites around Melbourne downed tools and marched from Melbourne Uni to Parliament House seeking this arrangement.

Their direct action protest was an immediate success, and they are noted as the first organised workers in the world to achieve an eight-hour day with no loss of pay.

The following month, in May, thousands of workers held a victory parade through Melbourne and this is the reason Labour Day is known through much of the rest of the world as May Day.

And what if you get asked to work on a public holiday?

You should check your Award or agreement for variations to the minimum standards set out below and taken from the Fair Work Act. If you’re not sure about your rights at work, contact the TWU (VIC/TAS Branch) on 1300 727 614.

1.    I’m not planning to take any leave and it’s now the Friday before Labour Day and my boss is DEMANDING I WORK ON THE WEEKEND!!!!!!

Under the Fair Work Act your boss does have a right to make a reasonable request for you to work on a public holiday. The Act does not have hard and fast rules about what makes a request reasonable but there a few things that need to be considered including:

–       the type of workplace you are in. Do you work in a workplace that is 24/7 operation? Would you normally expect that the industry would be operating on a public holiday? Is the kind of work that you do time critical or important to the overall economy?

–       The amount of notice given. Were you asked at 2:59pm on the day before a public holiday? Yeah, that probably isn’t reasonable.

–       Your entitlement to penalty rates for working on that day.

 2.    My roster always has me rostered on for public holidays.

It’s true that for many employees in our industries, working public holidays are a normal part of your roster. If you work in a time-critical industry, it’s likely that it is reasonable for your employer to request you work on a public holiday.

As an employee, you can make a reasonable refusal to both a reasonable or unreasonable  request to work on a public holiday. The Fair Work Act provides guidelines on what makes a refusal reasonable.  These include family and caring responsibilities as well as the matters listed under point 1 above.

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