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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3670 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

employment and the government is committed to ensuring that workers are not disadvantaged in their working conditions.

The Annual Leave Amendment Bill 2003 makes a minor but important amendment to the Annual Leave Act 1973. The amendment removes a barrier preventing the accrual of annual leave by part-time employees who work fewer than 22.8 hours a week on average. The Annual Leave Act currently provides that employees who work fewer than 22.8 hours a week, or receive a loading in substitution for annual leave under an award or agreement, are not entitled to annual leave. The restriction of annual leave to those working more than 22.8 hours a week reflects the historical restrictions that were formerly placed on part-time employment in federal industrial awards.

Generally, awards protected part-time employees by requiring their employers to give them a minimum number of hours of engagement each week. However, following the enactment of the Workplace Relations Act by the Howard government in 1996, federal legislation now specifically provides that it is illegal for federal awards to set maximum or minimum hours of work for regular part-time employees.

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission was therefore forced to remove these protections for part-time workers through the award simplification process, and part-time employees are now able to work a shorter span of hours each week. Part-time workers should not be disadvantaged, as a result, in entitlements to annual leave. If a part-time employee is now working an average five hours a week, they should be entitled to annual leave on a pro rata basis according to their average hours.

The bill I present today will remove the barrier. However, casual employees and others who receive loading in lieu of annual leave will continue to be excluded from annual leave entitlements under the act. I ask the Assembly to note the Annual Leave Amendment Bill 2003.

Debate (on motion by Mr Pratt ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2003 (No 2)

Ms Gallagher , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by clerk.

MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (10.38): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2003 (No 2) builds on the reforms to the ACT private sector workers compensation scheme that commenced operation in 2002. The bill has been developed in consultation with the ACT Occupational Health and Safety Council's workers compensation advisory committee. The committee has worked in cooperation with the government over the first year of operation of the new scheme to identify further improvements and requirements. The bill that I table today is a result of

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