CFMEU wins court appeal for sick workers

THINGS went crook for Hail Creek Mine in the Federal Court on Friday when the CFMEU won an appeal over sick leave entitlements.

The mining union argued against a May judgment that found workers were not entitled to unlimited sick leave.

The CFMEU said Hail Creek Coal Pty Ltd had 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.

The union told the court the company subsequently said workers could have only three months of sick leave.

Federal Court Justice John Logan concluded in his May judgment that the workers were not entitled to unlimited sick leave.

He said 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 said the union was partly mistaken in its interpretation of the wording in the company's handbook.

One sentence in the handbook 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 was "determined by individual medical needs and circumstances".

Justice Logan also said the enterprise bargaining agreement was unclear.

The CFMEU said the company had refused six workers access to personal leave and that five of them were told they had none left.

Three Federal Court judges agreed to set aside Justice Logan's judgment and allow the CFMEU to take the matter back to court.

The CFMEU's Steve Smyth said the union was happy with the result.

- APN NEWSDESK



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