Qantas has recently won a case which found that two of its employees were not entitled to indefinitely maintain a job sharing arrangement.
The Full Bench of the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission recently found that two Qantas customer service employees were not entitled to indefinitely maintain a job sharing arrangement.
The employees, Natalie Gartside and Helen Joyce commenced employment with Qantas in 2003 and 2004 respectively and signed contracts which provided for their employment on a permanent part-time basis, containing a clause that any subsequent positions that they held with Qantas would be governed by the 2004 contract.
In February 2008, Ms Joyce and Ms Gartside were transferred to a job-share arrangement in which they both worked 19 hours per week. After the commencement of their job share roles, Qantas send letters to the employees stating that the job share position was to be on a trial basis for six months with a view of it being extended. However, the employees did not agree with the letter and did not sign it.
There were a number of discussions between Qantas and the Australian Services Union between 2008 and 2012. Qantas was of the opinion that all job-share arrangements were for a fixed term, whilst the Australian Services Union, representing Qantas employees, argued that job share arrangements were ongoing. There was no agreement reached between the parties.
In December 2012, Qantas sent a letter to Ms Gartside and Ms Joyce inviting them to reapply for the job share positions as they were due to expire in February 2013. Qantas advised that their appointment was subject to operational or other business requirements.
The job share arrangements were extended to May 2013. The employees were then advised that Qantas could not offer a further job share secondment and would instead offer them a three month transition period to allow the employees to transition into new roles.
Ms Gartside and Ms Joyce commenced proceedings claiming that their job sharing arrangements were not for a fixed term and were ongoing.
The Full Bench found that the 2004 contracts of employment of Ms Gartside and Ms Joyce contained a clause that Qantas could provide unilateral notice to change the employee’s hours of duty and therefore could terminate the job share arrangements at any time with notice.
* PCC Lawyers are a team of employment practitioners based in Sydney, with many years of combined knowledge and experience in workplace law, industrial relations, workplace investigations and training. They provide a high standard of excellence and an exceptional level of personal service to a variety of clients in the Sydney metropolitan area, Central Coast, regional NSW and interstate.