New workplace Award will give council staff the right to disconnect

A new workplace Award containing the right to disconnect from work during non-working hours will be extended to 50,000 local government employees across NSW if it is endorsed on July 1.

Graeme Kelly

The proposed Local Government (State) Award 2023 also includes up to 20 days of paid leave for all council workers experiencing domestic violence, as well as miscarriage leave, paid Remembrance and ANZAC Day leave for veterans, and 100 per cent tool allowance for apprentices.

The provisions were initially included in City of Newcastles’ Enterprise Agreement which was ratified last December, leading to calls by the union representing council workers for the agreement to be embraced across the board.

The union says the proposed Award provides improved workplace conditions and socially progressive entitlements including improved parental leave and more workplace flexibility.

USU General Secretary Graeme Kelly said if it’s endorsed, the Award will also deliver a fair pay increase to help with the rising cost of living, as well as added access to workplace flexibility and a mandated right to disconnect outside of work.

“I think New South Wales is leading the way when it comes to terms and conditions for local government workers. We were first with family and domestic violence leave, first with vaccination leave, and now we are one of the first local government agreements with a right to disconnect,” he told Government News.

Newcastle Mayor Nuatalia Nelmes said the City was pleased to see the results of its negotiations presented to councils across the state.

“The success of City of Newcastle’s EA challenged the rest of the local government sector to embrace the progressive elements of the agreement,” she said in a statement.

Around 250,000 workers had the opportunity to vote on the proposed statewide Award.

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