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Ai Group successfully sees off union claim in FWC Blood Donor Leave Case

"The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has successfully defended employers' interests in the Fair Work Commission's Blood Donor Leave Case. The case related to a union claim for various industry awards to be varied to give employees an entitlement to take paid leave four times a year to donate blood," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

"The union claim was supported by the Victorian Government, the South Australian Government and the Red Cross, but strongly opposed by Ai Group on the basis that employers should not be required to pay for employees to participate in community activities, regardless of how worthwhile such activities are. Indeed, many employers contribute greatly through voluntarily supporting community activities but to impose legal obligations and related costs on businesses to do so is unacceptable and could open the floodgates to endless similar claims.  

"A Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has accepted Ai Group's arguments and rejected the union claims. In its decision handed down yesterday afternoon, the Full Bench said:  

[64] …..It is entirely a matter for the individual employee whether, when, and how often, they donate blood. In that sense, blood donation is essentially no different from other forms of beneficial charitable or community activity. Although in many cases blood donation will be made easier if blood donor leave is provided because blood donor facilities are often located close to places of employment and because of time constraints outside of working hours, the evidence before us nonetheless demonstrated that it remains possible and practicable for employees to donate blood outside of working hours or during leave, albeit that it might involve greater time and inconvenience. That is to say, blood donor leave is not a necessary precondition for blood donation to take place.

"The decision will be an important precedent in future cases given the claims that are increasingly being made by unions and others for employers to provide more and more paid leave entitlements to employees," said Mr Willox.  

Full Bench Decision

Ai Group submission

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347