QLD Employment Law - Who Gets Paid the Retail Cold Work Allowance?

Discussion in 'Employment Law Forum' started by Laurence, 16 April 2019.

  1. Laurence

    Laurence Member

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    My question is from the perspective of a retail supermarket worker on how to read and apply the General Retail Industry Award clause under Employment Law:

    20.8 Cold work disability allowance
    (a) Employees principally employed on any day to enter cold chambers and/or to stock and refill refrigerated storages such as dairy cases or freezer cabinets will be paid an allowance per hour, while so employed, of 1.3% of the standard rate.
    (b) An employee required to work in a cold chamber where the temperature is below 0C will in addition to the allowance in 20.8(a) also be paid an allowance per hour, while so employed, of 2% of the standard rate.

    I would like to think that the clause is actually payable to workers, in that it should be paid to people for the number of hours they are doing the stated work. However, my employer wants to read it so that it is not payable to anyone who is doing the work by inserting their own meanings around the length of shift and proportions of shift.
     
  2. Rob Legat - SBPL

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    You look at the work on any particular day. If that day’s work is principally in a cold room, the allowance applies for each hour the employee is principally doing that work.

    Say the employee does an 8 hour shift: 4 hours in a cool room (above zero), 2 hours in a freezer, and 2 hours outside either. Then that should be 4 hours at a 1.3% allowance, 2 hours at 3.3% allowance, and 2 hours at normal pay.
     
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  3. Laurence

    Laurence Member

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    So are you saying that people will not be paid the fridge allowance based on length of shift and proportions of shift. So people doing longer shifts will miss out, or if they did only 3 hours filling fridges they will miss out? It seems wrong that an hourly allowance for doing cold work is not paid to the people actually doing the cold work, simply because the allowance clause contains the word "principally".
     
  4. Rob Legat - SBPL

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    I would say that the allowance is designed to compensate workers who spend most of their shift in the cold environment, not just a part of it - hence the word 'principally'. No doubt this is an attempt to strike a balance between the interests of the employers and those of the employees.

    Don't forget that there are other mechanisms for pay allowances and penalties. Despite this, someone somewhere is likely to feel unfairly treated with their circumstances. That's an unfortunate part of how the law works.

    These are really policy considerations - which are beyond what we get into here. By policy I mean the reasoning and basis for the laws made up by what is commonly considered the 'government'. Once upon a time it would just be 'parliament' that made laws and rules but that is no longer the case.
     
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  5. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer
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    Stuff like this is why people should be in unions.
     
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  6. Rod

    Rod Lawyer
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    The sub clauses are independent of each other so each hour counts in (b), whereas in (a) it does depend on WHY you were employed that day.

    And yes, if I was an employer I'd be moving people in and out of refrigerated areas to avoid paying the allowance.

    As Tim says, if you want change join a union and start lobbying.
     
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