The Fair Work Commission last week notified bargaining representatives and Vodafone management that they held some concerns in relation to the application for approval of the enterprise agreement you voted on in August this year. This means that the Commission is getting close to approving the agreement but there are some issues which the employer needs to address to ensure that the conditions in the enterprise agreement are at least equal to those in the Telecommunication Services Award 2010.

Some of the issues raised by Commissioner Lee are administrative in nature and deal with the paperwork which was lodged to apply for the agreement to be approved. We anticipate that these will be dealt with very easily by providing additional supporting evidence of dates and times and the manner in which notifications were made to eligible employees. These issues should not cause any concern.

There was a concern raised over the wording included in the Consultation clause of the agreement. The Commissioner states that the Fair Work Act requires the clause to contain wording which requires the employer to seek the views of affected employees when a change to regular rosters and hours of work are proposed.  The ASU believes that this has already been dealt with appropriately with the wording which is included in the proposed clause but we are seeking advice through our legal team given that the only option if the Commissioner does not agree is that the model consultation term is inserted in place of the negotiated term. The model term only requires that the employer consult once a definite decision has been made whereas the current clause and the proposed clause requires them to consult after an in-principle decision has been made. This could result in decisions being made without consultation and the extent of the consultation being limited to how the decision will impact you, rather than providing genuine consideration to other options which may be provided. We will keep you up to date on this important matter as the process goes on.

There was some concern around Public Holidays and the requirement to work at least once in a preceding two week period on the day of the week that the public holiday falls to be eligible to be paid for the holiday. This may cause some issues for some staff (particularly new staff, staff returning from leave and staff who are regularly rostered to work specific days but for whatever reason they have not) and their entitlement to be paid may be less than the National Employment Standards requires. The employer has been asked to provide a written undertaking in relation to this matter to address these issues and this will be incorporated into the EA document, improving the terms of the agreement for employees.

The Commissioner has asked for some further information in relation to part time employees and their entitlement to overtime for work done outside of the span of hours and on Saturdays where the Award provides a shorter span of hours than the agreement does. Under the Award casual and part time employees should be paid overtime rates outside the normal span of hours. This is not currently included in your EA and the employer has been asked to provide information to address this concern.

And finally, the Commissioner has raised some concerns around the enforceability of the overpayments clause allowing the employer to deduct funds from your pay where an error has been identified. The Commissioner has advised that the employee must, in all cases, agree to any deduction prior to this deduction taking place and taking funds from an employee’s pay without their approval may be an unauthorised deduction in accordance with section 324 of the Fair Work Act.

The ASU will endeavour to work with Vodafone around these issues and seek the best outcome for our members. The company has been given until 17 December to provide a formal response to the issues raised and then the Commissioner will further review the document and either approve it with the written submissions or ask for further information to resolve the concerns. We will provide further information to members when we receive anything further.

For further information please contact:
ASU Organiser Aaron De La Torre | 0427 813 821 | adelatorre@asuvictas.com.au

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