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Federal Court Says Qantas Can Stop Paying Staff Sick Leave

Federal Court says Qantas can stop paying staff sick leave

The Federal Court says Qantas can stop paying sick leave to staff during the current COVID-19 stand-down.

The Court ruled that forcing Qantas to pay leave entitlements defeats the purpose of the lawful stand-down.

Justice Geoffrey Flick said the stand-down power served two important purposes:

  • offering businesses financial relief
  • and protecting workers from termination.

Qantas sued by unions over the sick leave

25,000 Qantas workers stood-down in March can legally access some entitlements including annual leave.

However, the airline has stopped them from accessing sick, carers and compassionate leave.

The Transport Workers Union took the legal action, claiming Qantas is still responsible for paying sick leave during the stand-down.

The union noted two cases involving a a man battling cancer and another awaiting a triple bypass who both rely on sick pay.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement:

“The airline’s heartless move on sick leave mirrors other actions since the pandemic crisis began, including ignoring workers concerns about the virus, threatening with sacking workers who raise concerns, refusing to implement appropriate systems to prevent virus clusters and arbitrary implementation of the stand-downs.”



Court dismisses union claim

However, the Federal Court dismissed the union claim.

Justice Flick says allowing staff to access sick leave while lawfully stood-down because there is no work…

“goes against the very object and purpose of conferring those entitlements – namely an entitlement to be relieved from the work which the employee was otherwise required to perform.

“If there is no work available to be performed by the employee, there is no income and no protection against that which has not been lost.”

Union considering appeal

The TWU says it is “looking to appeal” the decision, which they describe as bitterly disappointing for Qantas workers battling serious illnesses.

Mr Kaine said:

“This is about justice and the fact that workers who are battling serious illnesses should be allowed to draw down the significant sick leave they have accrued through years of hard work at Qantas.”

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