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, for example annual leave.
However, the airline has stopped them from accessing sick, carers and compassionate leave.
The Transport Workers Union took legal action, claiming Qantas is still responsible for paying sick leave during the stand-down.
The union cited two cases involving 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.”
“TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION SUES QANTAS OVER SICK LEAVE”
Court dismisses union claim
However, the Federal Court dismissed the union claim.
Justice Flick said 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 it describes as bitterly disappointing for Qantas workers battling serious illnesses.
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