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Ask Maddy: what are the annual leave changes in the 2020 public sector EBA?

Ask Maddy: what are the annual leave changes in the 2020 public sector EBA?

Madeleine Harradence, Assistant Secretary of ANMF (Vic Branch)

There are a significant number of changes to the annual leave clauses in the 2020-24 public sector nurses and midwives enterprise agreement designed to reduce disputes.

ANMF understands there are significant workforce pressures and limits on members’ ability to take leave. We provide this information to assist members plan their annual leave applications throughout 2022.

Am I entitled to the sixth week of annual leave?

Under certain circumstances you could become entitled to a sixth week (38 hours for full-time employees) of annual leave when a new test comes into effect from mid 2022.

Registered nurses and midwives, and in more recent agreements enrolled nurses, are entitled to a minimum of five weeks (190 hours for full time employees) of annual leave per year of service.

The new agreement addresses disputes over eligibility for the sixth week, particularly for part-time employees working some weekends. The discriminatory nature of these disputes, in a predominantly female part time workforce, was used by ANMF to argue for the clause to change.

From 1 July 2022, a new test for the sixth week of annual leave comes into effect. A full-time employee (or part-time employee see below) required to work ordinary hours (as distinct from overtime) on at least 10 weekends per year (which includes a Sunday night shift despite the majority of the shift falling on a Monday) will be entitled to the sixth week.

An employee, including a part-time employee, required to work ordinary hours on some weekends, but not 10 or more, will be entitled to the sixth week’s leave on a pro rata basis.

How do employers make annual leave approval decisions?

The 2020-2024 EBA contains a new provision aimed at a fair and equitable way of managing annual leave requests during high demand periods, such as during school holidays, where more employees may want to take leave than the ward can accommodate.

An employer must develop and publish the requirements for a high demand holiday period for affected employees (may be a specific ward or work area). The requirement must identify:

  • the high demand holiday period
  • the date by which a written request for annual leave should be submitted
  • the date by which the employer will notify the employee in writing that their annual leave request is approved or, if not approved, the reasons for the leave not being approved.

The employer will consider all the circumstances including, but not limited to, operational needs, the employee’s family responsibilities and the success of previous leave applications.


How quickly does my employer need to respond to my annual leave request?

Where the annual leave request is for a period other than a high demand holiday period you should submit a written request for annual leave at least six weeks prior to the first day of the proposed leave period/s unless it is not reasonable to do so in the circumstances.

Within 10 weekdays (14 calendar days) of your leave request, your employer will notify you in writing that your annual leave request is approved or, if not approved, the reasons for the leave not being approved.

Your employer must not unreasonably refuse to agree to an annual leave request.

Where it is likely the leave request will be rejected, your employer must consult with you within the ten-day period (14 calendar days) on alternate leave days (unless it is a high demand holiday period)


Can my employer change the dates of my already approved leave?

Once annual leave is approved, it must not be unilaterally changed by the employer.

If extraordinary circumstances arise, any change may only occur through consultation and agreement.


What is annual leave loading and what do I get?

You are entitled to receive your ordinary pay during annual leave, i.e. remuneration for your normal weekly number of hours of work calculated at the ordinary time rate of pay (not including penalties etc).

To make up for the loss of penalties your employer must make an additional annual leave loading or a payment of the penalties and allowances you would normally receive – whichever is higher.


Do extra shifts count towards annual leave?

Yes, to determine normal weekly hours for a part-time employee who performs additional shifts your leave must reflect the additional hours worked over the 12-month period.

Do higher duties (or acting up into a higher paid position) count?

Yes, if you performed higher duties for an aggregate period of three months or more in a 12-month period, ordinary pay will be adjusted proportionally to reflect the period during which higher duties were performed.

Can my employer make me take annual leave?

Yes, in limited circumstances, as was the case under the previous EBA.

The change in the 2020-2024 EBA is a detailed process about managing employees who have ‘excessive’ leave accrued – i.e. two years or more of annual leave entitlement accrued (10 weeks for weekday workers, 12 weeks for weekend workers).