Workers like former One.Tel employees sacked without redundancy entitlements would receive up to 20 weeks severance pay under an ACTU Test Case announced today.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the case aimed to increase the redundancy entitlements of millions of award workers and would create a new national standard reflecting changes in the labour market since the last test case in 1984.

Under the Test Case, the minimum entitlement for employees made redundant after six or more years of service would be doubled from eight weeks severance pay to 16 weeks, with workers aged over 45-years-old to receive 20 weeks pay.

The case would for the first time extend redundancy entitlements to long-term casuals (with more than 12 months service) and require managers to consult employees about job losses.

“Corporate failures and cutbacks have made 600,000 people redundant in the last few years. One-quarter of them – 150,000 employees – received less than one-days notice that theyre losing their job. Many employees hear it first on the radio or in the newspaper that theyre about to lose their livelihoods,” Ms Burrow said.

“The current eight-week cap on severance pay is inadequate when the average period of unemployment after redundancy is 22 weeks, and more than one-fifth of employees made redundant in the last few years lost their jobs after more than 10 years of service.

“It is unfair that 60% of casual employees, or about 1.2 million people, have worked in the same job for more than 12 months but have no redundancy entitlements.

“Extra help is needed for employees aged over 45 who face being unemployed for more than twice as long as younger workers, or 96 weeks of unemployment on average,” Ms Burrow said.

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission is expected to hear the case later this year.

Ms Burrow will announce details of the case at a news conference in Sydney today.

WHEN: 11am AEST Thursday August 29, 2002
WHERE: LHMU offices
Level 9
187 Thomas St
Haymarket, Sydney, NSW 2000