This email from the MEAA, entitled “Att: Age subs” is currently doing the rounds:
The Alliance has briefed our law firm, Maurice Blackburn, to commence proceedings in the Federal Magistrates’ Court against The Age for compensation for unpaid overtime for features subs. The claim can only be for the previous six years (from the date of lodgement with the court). We will lodge with the court once we have a complete list of affected members.
For over ten years, features’ subs were rostered from 9am till 6pm, five days’ per week and directed to take a half-hour lunch break each day. The various collective agreements in place over this time specify, “Where an employee is permitted a break of one hour off duty for a meal, the Company shall be entitled to deduct one hour from the total time worked…If the break permitted is less than one hour, no time shall be deducted…” (Clause 36.14 in the current agreement.)
However, the company deducted half an hour from each employee’s daily hours worked. Our legal advice is that this is in breach of the agreement and that each employee was entitled to be paid for 8 hours each day, which means that the company may need to pay each of the affected employees’ overtime of 2 hours per week.
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The email urges all “members who worked on the Age features subs’ desk for all or part of the past six years need to contact the Alliance urgently if they wish to be part of the case.” According to the Alliance, the practice ceased when the company “combined the features and general subs’ desks in December last year. It is our understanding that all subs are now rostered for 7 hours 26 minutes each day.”