Church under fire over carer time-off initiative
The Catholic Church has come under attack from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board over a decision of the Full Bench of the Industrial Relations Commission.
The Catholic Commission for Employment Relations, the industrial relations arm of the Catholic Church in NSW, recently extended its groundbreaking personal/carer’s leave provision to most of its employees with the approval of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
Unions involved also agreed to the clause.
But the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, which intervened in Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) proceedings to vary seven state awards so as to extend the leave to more employees, has objected to the wording of the new clause.
It objects to a distinction made between family and other carers.
The IRC, in its judgement, highlighted that the proposed award would grant access to all employees to support “a family member or other person who needs the employee’s care and support”.
It said the new award was “a positive step forward for employees working in Catholic workplaces”.
The executive director of the Catholic Commission
for Employment Relations, Michael McDonald, said
the Church had been a leader in granting carer’s leave, which had been extended to its employees since the early 1990s.
It was concerned, he added, to uphold its views on marriage and family.
The Anti-Discrimination Board said: “The argument is not so much about the entitlements people have but the label which is put on people covered by the awards.”
The president of the board, Chris Puplick, said the board was concerned that someone in a de facto relationship claiming carer’s leave would have to name the person being cared for and “bear the consequences”. It viewed this as potentially discriminatory and a contravention of the Anti-Discrimination Act.
The Nurses’ Association said the board’s attack on the new award did not make sense and reflects poorly on the board itself.
The award had taken nearly three years of effort by the association’s officers, the association said. Mr Puplick’s “unnecessary intervention” had “nearly derailed it”.