A Holidays Act Working Group has been established by the Government to carry out a full review of the Holidays Act 2003.
The Group will be made up of employer, worker and government representatives and will be chaired by Gordon Anderson, a law professor at Victoria University with extensive experience in employment law.
The Working Group will focus particularly on the provisions of, and payment for, holidays and leave entitlements, but it may also consider any other issues that arise in the course of its work.
The group will report back within 12 months with recommendations to government on options for a clear and transparent set of rules for providing entitlements to, and payment for, holidays and leave that can be readily implemented in a payroll system and is applicable to an increasingly diverse range of working and pay arrangements.
“The Holidays Act was enshrined in law to provide for minimum entitlements to annual holidays, public holidays, sick leave and bereavement leave, and protect work/life balance for workers,” says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.
“However, there’s been enormous change in our labour market over the past 15 years and it’s clear we need to look at the Holidays Act with a fresh pair of eyes and ensure it is fit for modern workplaces and new working arrangements.
“We need law that provides certainty to both employers and employees so that employees receive their correct entitlements. The legislation needs to be straightforward and simple to implement, and deliver fair rest and entitlements for workers.
“With an increasing variety of work patterns and pay arrangements, the legislative requirements of the Act are proving difficult and costly for employers to apply and employees are not receiving their full entitlements.
“I expect this group to consult widely to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues with the current legislation, and work closely with technical experts such as payroll and other business service providers to assist with the design and testing of policy options to ensure they will work well in practice. The group will report back with recommendations in mid-2019,” the minister says.
The review will not consider the issue of remediation of historical underpayments of holiday and leave pay. A new regime is likely to be two to three years away. In the meantime, employers retain an obligation to remediate workers for historical underpayments of holiday and leave pay, and to pay employees correctly.