High Court rules on Cadbury personal leave case
THE High Court has overturned a previous ruling in the case of two Tasmanian Cadbury shift workers over how personal leave entitlements are calculated.
It comes after a Federal Court decision in August last year ruled in favour of workers Natasha Tewson and Brendon McCormack after the case was brought by the chocolate maker's parent company Mondelez.
The Fair Work Act states that workers are entitled to 10 days of paid personal or carers leave each year.
Ms Tewson, Mr McCormack and the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union had argued that as 12-hour shift workers, they should be entitled to accrue 10 12-hour shifts of paid personal or carer's leave a year.
But the High Court judgment, published on Thursday, agreed with Mondelez's view that leave should instead be interpreted as a "notional day" and be calculated by identifying one-tenth of an employee's ordinary hours over a two-week period.
The High Court said the 10-day calculation, regardless of work pattern and the distribution of hours, would " give rise to absurd results and inequitable outcomes."
The AMWU said it was disappointed by the decision, which they said meant shift workers were entitled to less than 10 days' personal leave each year.
"While we respect the decision of the High Court, this is a obviously a very disappointing outcome for us and for the delegates, Natasha and Brendon, who have been fighting for their personal leave entitlements through the courts for years now," AMWU Tasmanian state secretary John Short said.
"Cadbury workers do 12-hour days making the chocolate that we know and love.
This decision means that they will get fewer days of personal leave per year than
someone doing an office job working 9 to 5."
Mondelez said the High Court decision would continue equality between employees in the same workplace who completed the same hours in a working week, however on different rosters.
"It means that all employees, irrespective of their shift roster or number of
ordinary working hours, will receive the effect of two weeks personal/carer's leave,'' the company said in a statement.
"We welcome the decision and are pleased the matter is now resolved."
The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the ruling would come as a relief to employers across the country, and was also welcomed by the National Retail Association who said it was a "victory for common sense".
Originally published as High Court rules on Cadbury personal leave case