United Voice attended the Fair Work Commission this morning to defend SSDS members’ right to redundancy pay when contracts change. SSDS has asked the Commission to waive or reduce redundancy pay they are required to pay to employees when their contracts with Defence end before the end of this year.
Your union thinks all members should receive a full redundancy payment when they cease work with SSDS, and the union’s lawyers have told Commission Roe that the SSDS application will be strongly resisted. During the proceedings SSDS finally confirmed that anyone who doesn’t get a job will receive redundancy pay per the relevant Enterprise Agreement - but they are still claiming that if you do get a job you shouldn’t get a redundancy!
In some circumstances the Fair Work Act does allows employers to make applications seeking a waiver or reduction of redundancy pay. Those applications are usually made when one company buys another company, and all employee entitlements and leave accruals transfer to the new employer. But SSDS isn’t being sold, they’ve just lost some contracts. United Voice knows of no incoming contractor who is offering continuity of service and retention of the leave you’ve accrued at SSDS. There’s not even a guarantee that you’ll be paid as much as you earn now!
Commissioner Roe has scheduled further proceedings on 2 October and has directed SSDS to file evidence showing how it is that they can claim to have obtained new jobs for anyone. The word obtained has a particular meaning in the Fair Work Act and it means much much more than just pointing out where another job is being advertised, or helping you to fill out a job application. Making suggestions about where jobs are going and providing newsletters about the changes are things any decent Australian employer should do – it shouldn’t mean you should forfeit your redundancy pay.
The first of SSDS’s contracts to finish is the Northern Territory/Kimberly contract on 30 September 2014. The Commission will deal with the SSDS claim regarding employees on this contract first, and the other contracts will be dealt with before they finish between now and the end of the year.
Watch for a further update following the proceedings on 2 October 2014. If you have any questions, contact your Member Support Centre at 1 800 805 027.