An employee sought a bargaining order requiring the employer to provide him paid leave to participate as a bargaining representative in agreement negotiations.

The employee claimed he could not afford to attend meetings without pay. The employer was willing to provide flexible roster arrangements and paid annual leave or other accrued leave so the employee would not suffer financially.

FWA dismissed the application, finding the requirement to bargain in good faith does not include a duty to provide paid leave to an employee who volunteers to act as a bargaining representative. FWA noted it was possible to arrange the employee’s working patterns so he could attend negotiations outside work. FWA held the employer was giving genuine consideration to the employee’s proposals and was not trying to prevent him from attending negotiations. Interestingly, FWA went on to say that it did not want this decision to be considered a criticism of the common practice of employers providing paid leave for employees to attend bargaining sessions - a practice which it supported.

Sergeant Richard Bowes v Victoria Police [2011] FWA 2862