The Federal Court of Australia has handed down a decision pertaining to personal/carer’s leave with potentially significant consequences for employers. Under the Fair Work Act 2009  (‘the Act’) employees are entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave per annum. In Mondelez v AMWU  the majority clarified that this entitlement is to be calculated in days, not hours. The case involved a business (‘Mondelez’) where employees worked 36 hours per week, averaged over a 4 week cycle, in 12 hour shifts. The employees were afforded 96 hours of paid personal/carer’s leave a year, which entitled them to take eight shifts off. The Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, with whom the Justice O’Callaghan agreed in his dissent, argued that ’10 days’ in the Act should be interpreted to mean a certain number of hours of leave. However, the majority held that employees are entitled to 10 full days off yearly, and payment for the day is to be calculated on the ordinary hours the employee would have worked. Their Honours emphasised that the purpose of personal/carer’s leave is income protection, in reaching their decision. It follows that the Mondelez employees were in fact entitled to 120 hours of paid personal/carer’s leave per annum. The decision has created some upset amongst employers, particularly whose employees work part-time or irregular hours. Mondelez and the Federal Government have applied to the High Court for special leave to appeal the decision. Contact M+E for further information about employment regulations.

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