CFMEU and Hail Creek Coal clash on sick leave allowances

HAIL Creek Mine workers' sick leave entitlements sounded healthy to workers, until things turned crook.

Mining union CFMEU and Hail Creek Coal Pty Ltd were in the Federal Court this week arguing over how much paid sick leave employees at the mine, south-west of Mackay, were allowed.

The union argued the company agreed to unlimited sick leave, unless one period was longer than three months.

Whether paid sick leave continued after that would be up to the employee's manager.

CFMEU's barrister said the union requested during enterprise bargaining negotiations in 2011 that the entitlement be changed to 15 days annually, with a payout.

The lawyer said the company told the union that the workers had unlimited sick leave, and this led the employees not to pursue any changes.

But Hail Creek Coal disagreed with the union's argument.

It is the second time the CFMEU has taken the matter to court this year.

In May, Federal Court Justice John Logan did not find the workers were entitled to unlimited sick leave.

The judgment stated Hail Creek Coal contended eligible employees were entitled to paid sick leave according to the Fair Work Act 2009.

The act states workers are entitled to 10 days of sick leave for each year of service.

Justice Logan wrote in his judgment that the union was partly mistaken by how the company's handbook had been written.

One line stated the company would not place a defined limit on entitlements for employees suffering illness or injury.

But the next sentence said "the amount of sick leave granted to employees is determined by individual medical needs and circumstances".

Justice Logan also said the enterprise bargaining agreement, like many, lacked precision and clarity.

The current court case is still before the Federal Court.

- APN NEWSDESK


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