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Employee Entitlements

James Baker | 28 Feb 2019

What should they get? As I’m constantly speaking to painters all over the country, I have noticed that there’s quite a bit of confusion about employers not knowing what they should be paying their employees. They pay the weekly (award) wage and have no idea of all the entitlements that go with it. If you pay above the award wage though and have a Workplace Agreement in place specifying the inclusions, then as long as the employee is better off overall, then (apparently) it is fine.

But what are the entitlements?

I wanted to put some of the confusion to rest, so I went onto the Fair Work Ombudsman website and have copied and pasted information that may be relevant to you. These are only my findings though, so please go to the website yourself (https://www.fairwork.gov.au/) under the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 [MA000020] before you take any action on pay adjustments and entitlements. There are five items I would like to put to your attention.

Some you may know and some you may not, but all of them are part of an employees’ entitlement.

1. Rest and Meal Breaks (An employee gets 1 rest break and 1 meal break each day)

A Rest Break is a 10 minute paid break that counts as time worked and must be taken between 9am and 11am. A Meal Break is a 30 minute unpaid break that doesn’t count as time worked and must be taken between 12pm and 1pm or at a time agreed to between the employer and majority of employees. An employee who works for more than 5 hours must get at least 1 meal break and can’t be asked to work more than 5 hours without a meal break.If an employee has to work during their meal break to finish work, they have to be paid the double time ratefor this time or the employee may ask to finish work 30 minutes early instead of being paid at double time.

2. RDO’s (Rostered Days Off)

This is a day in a roster period that an employee doesn't have to work. It can be paid or unpaid, depending on how RDOs are set out in an award or registered agreement.When RDOs are paid, it is because an employee has worked extra hours that add up over a set period of time and this is taken as an RDO.Full-time employees can accumulate 1 paid RDO during a roster period of 4 weeks because they have worked a 40 hour week instead of the 38 hour weekly award. They are then entitled to 13 RDOs per year when they work a 20 day cycle continuously for 12 months.During a 4 week cycle of 20 days (5 days each week), an employee will work 8 hours per day for 19 days, and have 1 paid RDO.An employee takes their RDO:a) on the fourth Monday in the 4 week cycle, unless it's a public holiday, the next working dayb) on a day agreed to by the employer and the majority of employees (eg. the fourth Friday).(NB: Check the Building and Construction Award for information on arranging how to bank RDO’s or substituting an RDO for another day).

3. Vehicle and Travel Travelling during work hours

Employees travelling between job sites during work hours in the course of their duties have to be paid for all time spent travelling. They should also be paid the reasonable cost of public transport between the sites if relevant.When an employee is asked to use their own vehicle to travel between work sites, they get a vehicle allowance. For allowance amounts, go to Penalty rates and allowances.This allowance isn’t paid if the employer provides transport or covers the cost of reasonable public transport.Travelling to and from workSome employees are entitled to a daily allowance when they’re working at a construction site that is located within a 50 km radius of either:a) the General Post Office in their capital city, orb) the principal post office of a regional city or town.They’re entitled to this allowance when they drive their own vehicle, or when the employer:a) provides them with a work vehicle free of charge andb) requires them to drive this vehicle to and from their home to the job site.This allowance isn’t paid if the employer provides the employee with transport to and from their home to thejob site (eg. driving them in a work vehicle or arranging to have them picked up by another driver).The allowance is paid on rostered days off but it's not paid during periods of leave. However, it's included when calculating Annual Leave Loading.(Note. Check employees living and travelling outside Radial areas)

4. Annual Leave Loading

Leave loading is a payment made on top of the employee’s annual leave. For instance, if an employee has accrued 4 weeks annual leave, they receive and extra 17.5% of the base rate. It was inherited from the 1970’s Labour movement which applied in many industries where doing overtime was normal. When a person was on leave, they missed the opportunity to work overtime and earn extra income. As a consequence, this entitlement was created to compensate the imbalance.

5. Portable Long Service

As our industry is project driven, it would be impossible for most workers to accrue enough service with oneemployer to be eligible for long service leave, but the Australian States and Territories have legislation in the Building and Construction industries to provide employees with access to portable long service leave. QLeave, for instance in Queensland, is industry funded and there is no cost to the employer. All you are required to do is register your employee/s (including apprentices and trainees), and for every year of service (or part of) they will receive credits for the days worked (maximum of 220 per year). Once 2,200 credits are accrued, they are entitled to 8.67 weeks of paid long service leave. Credits can also be transferred from company to company.Other States have similar schemes to QLeave so depending on which State you live in, it is best to contact them directly.

I hope I have cleared up a few things up, but please take note as I mentioned above, if you do not pay some of the entitlements above to your employees, then you must make sure that whatever wage you do pay them, they would be equally, or better off overall. Again, all these are my findings, so please go to the website yourself at (https://www.fairwork.gov.au/) where you can check out all Pay Awards and Entitlements


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