Bosses have to ask workers if they want to work on public holidays and they can’t automatically sign them up to pursue a high-profile lawsuit in Australia.
- Workers must be required to be on holiday lists
Bosses should ask workers if they want to work on public holidays before putting them on the list.
This would apply to all workplaces and void everything written in existing contracts or agreements after a high-profile court case.
The Australian Federal Court found that a business within mining giant BHP had committed a breach of the Fair Work Act by forcing miners to work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
The case was brought on appeal before the Construction, Forestry, Marine, Mining and Energy Consortium as workers at Daunia miner near Moranbah in central Queensland appeared against BHP’s work provider OS MCAP.
The case concerns 85 employees who were forced to work Christmas and Boxing Day in 2019 without additional compensation.
The justices pointed out the imbalance of power between employers and workers, saying that employers can only reasonably ask someone to work, not order them to do so.
“The intended harm the ruling faces is the inherent imbalance of power between employers and employees,” the decision stated.
Because of this imbalance, employees often feel forced, and don’t understand, that they have the power to decline a request that is unreasonable or when their refusal would be reasonable.
“The requirement of a ‘request’ rather than a unilateral order stimulates the capacity for discussion, negotiation, and refusal.”