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Annual leave and long service leave entitlements: know your rights

As part of its drive to achieve “efficiencies” in its operations, management in Global Enterprise Services (GES) says it wants to reduce the provisions for annual and long service leave that it is carrying on its books. 

While Telstra says it is, at this stage, “asking for [employees’] help” rather than obliging staff to take leave, it is important that members understand their rights in this area. 

Annual leave.

Usually the taking of annual leave is a matter that is agreed on between an employee and his/her manager. However, under the Telstra Enterprise Agreement (TEA), Telstra can direct you to take annual leave in some circumstances i.e. if 

  • you have more than 6 weeks leave accrued (7 for continuous shift workers), though it cannot leave you with fewer than 4 weeks accrued leave (5 for continuous shift workers); 
  • Telstra is shutting down all or part of its business for a period. (Members should always notify their branch about such proposals.) 

Long service leave.

Your long service leave entitlements are set out in the TEA as well as in the Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976.  Neither the Agreement nor the Act gives an employer the power to direct you to take Long Service Leave. 

Cashing out of leave.

Under the current Telstra EA, you can, by written agreement with Telstra, cash out your annual leave entitlements as long as you leave at least 4 weeks accrued leave in the “bank”. 

Similarly, you may, under the Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976, cash out long service leave if you and Telstra are agreed on this. 

But in neither case does Telstra have the right to make you cash out your leave. 

Any member who feels that he or she is being placed under undue pressure to take leave should contact the union.

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