Cancellation pay. Law or best practice?
A reader posted this question: “Do you know of any legal obligation there is to pay casual staff if they have a shift cancelled?”
Their scenario: they were were booked by another production company to supply 8 x loaders for a load in and load out at a Racecourse for a show. Pretty simple. Morning of the event, the show gets cancelled. Trucks get half emptied and then reloaded.
“We pay our 8 x staff for both shifts as the cancellation is under 24hrs and fairs fair. It was actually about 12hrs between cancellation and when the shift was due to start. After a bit over 60days of emailing for payment of the invoice, I finally call the office and get informed they will only be paying for the Loadin, not the loadout as the 2nd shift was cancelled.”
“Upon looking at the Live Performance award more closely, it turns out staff (at least our section – Production Support Staff) has no minimum cancellation period. I found this a bit surprising, I guess the industry standard didn’t make its way into the award. Staff can be booked, and then cancelled 10minutes before a shift starts and they have zero recourse.”
Turns out our reader is correct. “There is no specific cancellation provisions in the Live Performance Award 2010 relating to casual crew”, says David Hamilton, Director, Workplace Relations at Live Performance Australia, the peak industry body.
“There was a case in Adelaide a number of years ago in the AIRC which considered this issue, and the Commissioner came down with a recommendation that at least 12 hours’ notice of a cancellation of a shift should be provided to casual employees, otherwise, the minimum call should be paid.”
“This has formed part of the ‘custom and practice’ in the industry to give casual employees at least 12 hours of a change or cancellation of a shift. The commercial theatres in Melbourne and Sydney have Enterprise Agreements which do contain such provisions, but are not contained in the Award.”
So there you have it. Gray area, no one wins – the promoter is obviously facing a loss no matter what and others can be caught up to share that pain.