ACTU secretary Sally McManus addresses a May Day march on the 'Change the Rules' campaign.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus addresses a May Day march on the 'Change the Rules' campaign.

Fair work reminds employers of rights ahead of ACTU rallies

A REMINDER that employers can dock workers' pay by four hours if they take part in unprotected industrial action has been described as "baffling and disgraceful".

As the Australian Council of Trade Unions prepares for several rallies across the nation, including Gladstone, the Fair Work Ombudsman has told employers what their rights are.

The FWO said it would investigate allegations of people who were involved in unprotected industrial action.

"Please be aware that if an employee fails to attend the workplace or stops work without authorisation from their employer, this conduct may be unprotected industrial action in contravention of the FW Act," the ombudsman said.

It said employers were entitled, under the Fair Work Act, to deduct four hours' wages from an employee if they took part in industrial action without authorisation, even if they were away from work for a shorter period.

The rallies, part of the ACTU's Change the Rules campaign, are set to criticise current workplace laws and to call for workers to have more "power" when it comes to asking for a pay rise.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus accused the FWO of "intimidating working people" out of attending a protest.

"In a democracy everyone has a right to stand up for what they believe in and protest for change," Ms McManus said.

"The Fair Work Ombudsman, who is supposed to protect and defend working people, is instructing employers to cut people's pay if they attend a protest.

"This is a baffling and disgraceful decision at a time when working people's rights are being violated routinely and when wage theft is a business model for many employers."

The Gladstone rally will be held on October 23 from noon to 1pm at Gladstone Marina.

Rallies will also be held in Melbourne, Rockhampton and Townsville.