JLU: Junior Lawyers' Union

Asserting the rights of junior lawyers, who have much more power than they realise.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Smelling the roses, and the law that does nothing

When I resigned back in October, I agreed to serve out my contractual notice period of three months. What I was really hoping for by giving such an unnaturally long period of notice was for my workload to diminish to the point where there was no reason to keep me around, at which time the firm would suggest I enjoy a period of "gardening leave".

This, of course, was pure fantasy.

"Gardening leave", for those unfamiliar with the expression, involves being sent home (notionally to tend to your garden) on full pay for the remainder of one's notice period. It is not an uncommon practice among corporations that wish to prevent executives from working for a competitor but, I dare say, it is completely unheard of in relation to junior lawyers.

The weeks immediately following my resignation were possibly the busiest I've had, as the firm excised its juiciest pound of flesh yet while I remained a captive employee. Since then, however, things have quietened down and I've had a chance to ponder various schemes for getting myself sent on gardening leave for my last month or so.

Then I spotted my sick leave balance. I have almost 20 days of personal leave accumulated. Man, that's four weeks. I could basically take off a month for some cosmetic surgery (that I so desperately need) and have the cost covered by my sick leave. (Well, maybe. What does cosmetic surgery cost these days?)

Just as I was contemplating rhinoplasty, Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews announced new laws enabling employees to cash out their personal (sick) leave. How good is that?! Instead of throwing sickies, you can just take the cash!

Admittedly, the end of the sickie would mean the demise of a long and culturally-accepted tradition, which would be decidedly un-Australian. But it sounds like a bloody good deal to me. Could it really be so?

No, of course it isn't.

Upon closer inspection, employees can cash out their personal leave down to the point where they have 15 days remaining. Ok, so I can cash out a week. Not so bad.

Well, actually, any request to exercise the right to cash out sick leave must be made in writing to your employer and is subject to your employer's agreement.

Wait a minute. So I can cash out sick leave if my employer wants me to? In other words, the firm will give me money if it feels like it. What are the odds of that?

Upon learning of the new law, one partner here put it best: "Why on earth would any employer agree to that?"


Thanks very much Mr Andrews. Looks like I'll be having that nose job after all.


Anonymous psycho lawyers club said...

YOu are formally invited to join the New Psycho lawyers Club

08 December, 2006 00:52  
Blogger Shop Steward said...

How vague!

11 December, 2006 15:04  

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