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Annual leave changes to industry awards

12 August 2016

Real estate agents can now cash out leave early and take it in advance in certain circumstances, thanks to changes to the industry awards.

Both the real estate industry and clerks’ awards have been amended to reflect the decision of the Fair Work Commission on the common issue of ‘annual leave’. 

The changes started from the first pay period after 29 July 2016.

The changes will affect: 

1. Cashing out of leave

Employees can now 'cash out' a limited amount of accrued annual leave, if:

  • not less than four weeks’ annual leave remains after the cashing out
  • there is a signed written agreement between the employer and the employee
  • no more than two weeks’ annual leave is cashed out each 12 months.

2. Taking annual leave in advance

Employees are allowed to take annual leave before it has been accrued, provided that:

  • the employer and employee agree in writing
  • the agreement is signed by both parties
  • the agreement states how much leave is being taken in advance
  • the agreement states the day upon which the leave will start.

Bryan Wilcox, REEF Chief Executive Officer said: “These changes are far from perfect for employers due to the regrettable administrative restrictions.  They do provide however, a modest improvement on current annual leave arrangements.”

3. Managing excessive leave balances

Bryan added that the issue of excessive annual leave has been an issue for a long time in real estate.

The rules now allow a way of reducing this by direction.

Bryan added: “If the employer and employee cannot agree on how to reduce or eliminate excessive annual leave, the employer can direct the employee in writing to take an amount of annual leave.”

However, this direction is subject to the following limitations: 

  • the employee must be left with an annual leave balance of not less than six weeks
  • the leave directed to be taken must be not less than 1 week
  • the direction must give the employee at least 8 weeks' notice of commencing the leave.

The same provisions will apply for an employee wanting to take annual leave.