Supporting parents so they can look after their babies is the right thing to do.
Government funded paid parental leave was introduced as a universal program – to be available to all families in Australia. It must stay that way.
Tell crossbench Senators to vote against changes to paid parental leave. Click here to send your message
The SDA continues its campaign to protect Penalty Rates in the Retail, Fast Food and Warehousing Industries.
Employer groups are not relenting in their pursuit to abolish or reduce Sunday and Public Holiday rates as well as abolishing late night penalties.
A claim has been made to reduce a shift, or a days work to one hour.
The Federal Government has asked the Productivity Commission to inquire into Australia’s Workplace relations system.
An interim report has been released by the Productivity Commission recommending Sunday Rates convert to Saturday Rates.
If this goes ahead, some retail workers could lose up to $6,000 per year.
Have your say today by following the link www.saveourweekend.org.au and help us protect your entitlements.
It’s worth fighting for.
New policies are being introduced into many Australian workplaces which enable employees to be tested by their employer for drugs and alcohol. Testing often involves employees being randomly tested for drugs and alcohol in their workplace using breath, saliva and urine-based testing devices. The implementation of drug and alcohol testing policies in retail stores has the potential to impact on SDA members like you. These policies, if introduced in retail stores, may result in you being subject to an unfair, unreasonable and potentially unlawful testing regime in your workplace. If this is happening in your store, the SDA wants to know.
CONCERNED UNION MEMBERS
The SDA has been alerted by members concerned about the impact these new testing regimes may have on them. Following up on our members’ concerns, and worried about the potential implications that these new policies could have for the rights of retail employees, the SDA is keen to hear from any members who may already be aﬀected by drug and alcohol testing regimes.
WHAT THE SDA SAYS ABOUT TESTING RETAIL WORKERS FOR DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
The SDA maintains that it is unreasonable, inappropriate and potentially unlawful to test retail workers for drugs and alcohol. Recent decisions by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) reflect the SDA’s view that testing employees for drugs and alcohol should be confined to workplaces where workers are operating in high-risk, safety critical environments. The performance of construction work and the operation of heavy machinery are roles that can be classified as high-risk or safety critical. Workplace testing for drugs and alcohol is an intrusive procedure that should only be warranted where it is reasonable, appropriate and lawful. Testing should only be considered to minimise risks that impairment, due to drug and alcohol misuse, may pose in a high-risk, safety critical work environment. The SDA recognises that sometimes retail employees may be impaired at work due to misuse of drugs and alcohol, however, there are other ways of managing these incidents. There is no need for heavy-handed, intrusive and invasive testing regimes designed for high-risk work environments to apply to retail stores. Workplace testing for drugs and alcohol is not warranted in a retail environment.
SERIOUS CONCERNS WITH THE DRUG AND ALCOHOL POLICIES IN RETAIL
The SDA has a number of serious concerns in relation to how drugs and alcohol policies may impact on our members:
Drug and alcohol policies have been developed for higher-risk worksites where heavy machinery is in operation, not for employees working in lower-risk retail stores where these high-risk elements are absent. The SDA has not been provided with any evidence of safety issues or incidents in retail stores involving employees aﬀected by drugs and/or alcohol misuse. Employees who are subject to these kinds of policies are often required to disclose private and personal health information, including medication that they have been prescribed by qualified medical practitioners, which is not relevant to their work. Where testing of employees is undertaken, it is often not done appropriately and in line with best practice, that is by an independent, accredited testing agency. Employees’ private information, including non-negative test results, could potentially be held by their employer, without the employee knowing if this information is secure. Drug and alcohol testing policies are often introduced under the guise of promoting employee health, safety and wellbeing, however, they can be still applied by a company in a punitive way, which ultimately may result in an employee losing their job.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
The SDA is very concerned about the potential implications that drug and alcohol testing policies could have for the workplace rights of retail employees. The SDA is keen to hear from members who may already be subject to testing for drugs and alcohol in their workplace.
CONTACT THE SDA
If you are aware of alcohol and drug testing being conducted in your workplace please contact the SDA on 6331 8166.
The majority of modern Australian families rely on two incomes to meet their financial obligations, however, workplace laws and practices have not kept pace with the needs of modern working families.
The lack of flexible, supportive workplaces for working parents is why employees consistently rate balancing work and family as one of their most important workplace issues.
This is particularly so for parents returning to work from parental leave and is one of the reasons Australia has one of the lowest participation rates for mothers in the OECD.
The recent Australian Human Rights Commission national inquiry into pregnancy and return to work discrimination showed that one in two mothers are discriminated against at work and of those, around one quarter are forced to resign.
Under current laws, parents may request flexible work arrangements to balance their caring responsibilities, but there is no obligation on employers to demonstrate they have tried to accommodate an employee’s request and employees have no right of appeal if an employer unreasonably refuses their request. The ACTU is seeking to improve workers rights in this area.
Eleanor was a Department Manager at a large supermarket retailer.
When she returned from parental leave, she was told she could not return to her job
on a part-time basis. Eleanor had to choose between returning to her role full-time (leaving her child in full-time care) or accepting a casual sales assistant position.
Like Eleanor, many workers are forced to resign or accept lower pay, lower status and insecure jobs after taking a period of parental leave.
A CLAIM FOR IMPROVEMENTS
The ACTU has lodged a claim in the Fair Work Commission for a clause in all awards to:
- Create a right for parents to return to their pre-parental leave position part time or on reduced hours which employers may only refuse on serious countervailing business grounds;
- Provide employees with an avenue of appeal if their employer unreasonably refuses the request to return to work on part time or reduced hours;
- Create a provision where, if an employer is unable to accommodate an employee’s return to their pre-parental leave position part time, they may accommodate the request in a suitable alternative position of similar status and pay;
- Entitle parents who have returned part time to go back to the position and work arrangements they held prior to taking parental leave two years from the birth or adoption of their child;
- Entitle employees to two days paid leave to attend appointments associated with pregnancy, adoption or permanent care
Some employers have taken technical objections to this claim, which must be dealt with by the Fair Work Commission before the merit of the case can be argued. We will keep you informed of progress on this important issue.