Archive for the 'Leave' Category

Improvements to Westpac annual leave policy

Finsec members have had good success in securing improvements to Westpac’s annual leave policy requiring that staff take leave in a 2 week block.

While the two-week requirement remains in place, Westpac have responded to members’ concerns with significant improvements to the flexibility of their annual leave policy. Purchased leave and public holidays will be counted as part of the two weeks, and if staff take another absence of 2 weeks (such as parental or long service leave) there will be greater flexibility on the two week block. There will also be greater ability to exempt staff with caring responsibilities.

Finsec still wants to ensure that the 2 week requirement does not disadvantage staff. If you or any other staff member has been required to take their leave in a block against their wishes, please let us know. Call 0800 FINSEC or email


Rugby World Cup – how will finance sector workers fare?

Tickets are being purchased, travel plans are made – but finance sector workers will have to consider not only our plans as rugby fans, but what it means for our work over the period of the tournament.

BNZ staff have already received communications from managers that they can anticipate a huge increase in workload over the period. The bank’s response – that annual leave over the November-January period will be strictly limited.

BNZ Union Councillor Tania Cooper said that staff understood that workloads would be increased, but that they needed to be part of planning on how to manage the increased workload.

“Even during the Rugby World Cup, life goes on – including Christmas and school holidays,” said Tania. “Many staff need to take leave over this period. We want to work with the bank to ensure the workload is manageable, but we also need the impact on staff to be considered.”

Finsec will be raising planning for the Rugby World Cup with all of the major banks as part of our quarterly forums this year.

CU Baywide changes unfair parental leave policy

Finsec members have sorted out another ‘misunderstanding’ about paid parental leave law, this time with Credit Union Baywide. CU Baywide’s policy – that staff on parental leave should take all their annual leave before they return to work, and therefore it be unpaid – was not only unfair, it didn’t comply with the law!

One Finsec member raised the problem and our union challenged it. The result is an amended policy which is being communicated to all affected staff, along with an apology for the error.

This case shows the importance of being union to make sure you’re treated fairly before, during and after parental leave.

Mondayise me!

Union members everywhere will follow the debate on Mondayising public holidays closely. We’re all feeling a little short-changed this year, with ANZAC day and Waitangi day both falling on the weekend with no day off. That means only 9 public holidays, compared to the usual 11.

Help could be on the way, with a member’s bill from Labour MP Grant Robertson to ensure that if either holiday falls on a weekend from now on, that the following Monday will be a day off work. The festivities for the days would still take place on the proper calendar date.

The government has been more cautious on the Mondayising of these holidays, saying it’s not so simple.

Finsec challenges Westpac and wins on sick leave issue

A switched-on Finsec member at Westpac has helped to clarify the issue of sick leave entitlements for staff returning from parental leave.

The member in question was informed by the bank that she had used all her sick leave and that future leave may be unpaid – but rang the Department of Labour and clarified that she had been accruing sick leave entitlement during her parental leave.

Next, she got on the phone to Finsec Legal Organiser Grace Liu who was able to confirm this fact, and challenged the bank to make sure their internal policies stacked up against legal entitlements. The bank now acknowledged that they were in the wrong, and the member now has the correct sick leave balance.

Grace Liu said the case showed the importance of questioning management decisions, especially as the member was informed in writing without consultation about her leave entitlements. “The initiative this member took meant we were able to support her to a successful outcome. Some other members are coming forward with similar issues, that we can now fix right across the bank.”

Finsec tells MPs employment law changes will wreak havoc

Finsec presented to the Select Committee looking at changes to employment law this week with a clear message that the changes will be bad for workers and employers.

General Secretary Andrew Casidy told the committee that cutting workers’ access to their union will create conflict. He talked about the legal case Finsec won to gain access to BNZ Insurances, and said that employers would be emboldened to keep union members from their union under the new provisions.

ANZ National Union Councillor Howden Gray told the committee that sick leave is already aggressively managed in the finance industry, to the extent that some staff are afraid to take genuine sick leave because of manager’s response. He also described the situation in Canada, where workers can sell all their annual leave, and some workers end up working years with no holidays.

Best worker protection for Easter trading = status quo

Yet another bill (the 8th since 1996) to extend Easter trading has failed, with National MP Jacqui Dean withdrawing her proposed law change saying she wants to improve worker protections.

But the union for retail workers, the NDU, says the best way to protect workers is to retain the status quo. “Even experienced retail workers who know their rights find it hard to say no to working on a busy day, and don’t want to let the team down,” said General Secretary Robert Reid.

“Easter Sunday is not a public holiday, so workers will not get any compensation, such as time in lieu, for working that day. It will become an ordinary working day for people who work in the retail sector.”

5 weeks annual leave for Vero staff

Finsec members at Vero have narrowly voted to ratify a new Collective Agreement, by 59% to 41%. While there was some concern about the overall package of the agreement, it is good news that the company has agreed to offer the option of 5 weeks annual leave

With ratification now complete, members will be asked to decide whether to move to new leave provisions (including increased annual leave, and decreased sick and long service leave), or retain their existing provisions.

Easter bunny safe after bill voted down

Another bill to open shops at Easter was voted down, in a move that has been welcomed by retail workers. National MP Todd McClay’s bill was defeated  62 votes to 59.

Margaret Dornan, a worker at Farmers and Vice President of the National Distribution Union said that retail workers already have very little family time, and that this bill (the 8th attempt to ruin Easter since 1996) would have made matters even worse. “You’ve only got 3 and ½ days when shops aren’t open.”

She said she was very pleased with the outcome. “I think it has sunk home to MPs that families are more important than shops opening, and that community should come before commerce.”

The power of love….and collective action

Finsec member Li Cui at Meadowlands BNZ store needed to take six weeks leave (3 weeks as annual leave, and 3 weeks as unpaid leave) to go back to China and marry his sweetheart, and allow both families to share the joyous occasion. Li tried to negotiate this leave on more than one occasion with his manager by himself, and after six weeks of negotiating, he was approved three weeks of annual leave only.

The team at the Meadowlands branch are a small close knit bunch, and wanted to support Li so a collective letter was drafted and endorsed by all staff and sent to the area manager, giving Li their full support, asking for a commitment to reconsider the decision.

Like all good love stories, this one has a happy ending. As a result of taking collective action through Finsec, three working days later Li was approved 3 weeks annual leave and an additional 1 week of unpaid leave.

A great win for Li, love, and for collectivism. All the best for your trip and the upcoming nuptials, Li!

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