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Termination during R & R Periods

The unpaid R&R period in a roster has been a common feature on recent Queensland resource projects such as Curtis Island, Surat CSG projects, Bowen Basin Coal projects and the current LNG projects in Northern Territory. There has been a common practice of providing employees with notice of termination concurrent with a period of R&R to avoid the payment of wages, as there is no ordinary pay or ordinary hours of work for that week.

However a recent industrial dispute lodged by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) seeking the payment of employees for notice of termination despite the R&R period has initially been determined in the union’s favour. The Fair Work Commission initially determined that R&R is a form of regulated and approved leave by the employer and that notice of termination of employment cannot run concurrent with a period of approved leave.

A full bench on appeal quashed this part of the decision and found that R&R was part of the work cycle. An employee could be provided with notice during R&R and payment may not necessarily be paid as there is no ordinary pay or ordinary hours for that week.

The interpretation will depend on the prescription of the R&R clause in the applicable industrial instrument. Therefore it will be prudent for employers to seek advice on the relevant clause applying on whether the notice during R&R will attract payment.

Drayton’s are able to advise on this issue.

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