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Police leave updates

Following last year’s pay round negotiations, some changes were made to Police leave (bold italic headings highlight new information).

What is my leave entitlement?

Constabulary employees are entitled to 20 days’ annual leave (25 after five years’ service), 11 statutory holidays and 2 commissioner’s holidays a year (there is no entitlement to commissioner’s holidays after five years). Members accrue 3 days PCT (physical competency test) leave a year, and up to 5 days SWL (shift workers leave), if working shifts.

Non-constabulary employees are entitled to 20 days’ annual leave (25 after 5 years), 11 statutory holidays and 3 commissioner’s days a year (there is no entitlement to commissioner’s holidays after five years). Members will also accrue up to 5 days SWL, if working shifts.

Other leave types, such as alternative days, toil (time off in lieu), and DDOs (deferred days off), accrue if you become entitled to them.

How does leave accrue?

Leave balances are updated in MyPolice overnight. Your entitlement to SWL is calculated throughout the year and your balance will adjust accordingly.

It is important that your timesheets are up to date to ensure all qualifying hours and shifts are included for calculation.

Unused statutory holidays (alternative days) and commissioner’s days are accrued as they occur. Where a statutory holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, they are transferrable to the following Monday (“Mondayised”). The next time this happens is in 2020 when both Anzac Day and Boxing Day fall on a Saturday.

How much leave can I have?

Members can now hold a total of 45 days’ leave, consisting of the sum total of all leave types except long-service leave.

The calculation of 45 days moves away from a member’s anniversary date to any day of the year, which means that on any day of the year, when you open MyPolice, your leave balance must be 45 days or less.

It’s good to remember that, in MyPolice, future booked leave comes off your leave balance the day it is approved.

So, if you find yourself over the 45-day maximum, all you need to do is book in some leave and your balance will adjust accordingly.

Leave year, accrual v entitlement. Do I need to know this any more?

No! Leave planning and management move away from your anniversary date to simply any day of the year, and your annual leave accrual and annual leave entitlement balances are both included in your 45-day maximum.

Help! I had a balance over 45 days when the collective was finalised – what happens to my leave?

For members who have high leave balances, transitional arrangements have been agreed in the collectives and you will have until February 1, 2020, to get down to, or under, the 45 days. If you are over the 45-day maximum, it is important to note that none of your leave will be forfeited, but Police can, and will, actively manage your leave planning.

Options to cash up leave

Under both collective agreements, members have the option to cash in three types of leave.

Fifth week of annual leave – Once members are accruing five weeks’ annual leave a year, they have the option of cashing up their fifth week, once a year, based on their anniversary date. You cannot “save up” weeks, ie, if you didn’t cash up your fifth week in your sixth year of service, you cannot cash up two weeks in your seventh year of service.

Toil (time off in lieu) – Along with a reduction in the weekly toil rule (from three hours to two hours) it is now easier to cash up toil. It can now be done on a 1:1 basis, meaning that for every day of leave a member takes, they can cash up a day of toil. Police cannot decline a toil cash-up application.

Alternative days (more than 12 months’ old) – Alternative days are accrued when members do not receive a statutory holiday off. If alternative days are not used within 12 months of their accrual, members can elect to cash them up.

Do I need to have a leave plan?

A yearly leave plans helps employees take leave when they want to and assists Police in managing operational staffing requirements, health and safety risks and organisational leave balance. It’s reasonable for Police to expect all employees to have a leave plan. A leave plan should cover:

  • When you want to take leave
  • How much you wish to take
  • What type of leave you intend to take.

Employees and supervisors should properly discuss the leave plan, so employees can, as far as possible, take leave when they want to. Any discussions should be two-way. Both employees and managers need to plan around operational requirements and periods of “high demand”, such as Christmas and school holidays.

A leave plan is a “living document” that should be flexible due to unforeseen operational requirements and/or changes to an employee’s personal circumstances. The main consideration is “reasonableness”. For example, it is reasonable to expect employees to have a leave plan, but a reasonable plan would include some flexibility.

Can Police direct me to take leave?

Under the Holidays Act, an employee can be directed to take leave if it is 12 months or older, and if agreement cannot be reached between the employee and the employer over when leave is to be taken.

However, your collective agreements provide a greater entitlement, and members are able to hold a larger leave balance (up to 45 days). Therefore, Police can only issue a directive to take leave if your leave balance is more than 45 days (note: transitional arrangements are in place until February 1, 2020).

A direction to take leave should be a last resort and a reasonable employer will discuss options with an employee before a direction is given.

The best way of avoiding a direction is to have a leave plan so your supervisor knows your intentions regarding your leave balance.

The Holidays Act also allows the employer to have a “close-down period” (for example, over the Christmas-New Year period). If a direction is being issued or a close-down period is being scheduled, Police must give the employee at least 14 days’ notice.

The Holidays Act states that annual leave should be taken on a mutually agreed date and an employee’s leave request should not be unreasonably declined. It is important for recording purposes that you apply for leave even if you believe it will be declined. You may find that your manager, after weighing up the formal application, is willing to approve it. It will also show your intention to actively manage your leave balance, which may be helpful if a decision is being considered to direct you to take leave.

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