A supermarket worker who took an overseas holiday despite being refused annual leave has won her unfair dismissal claim.
The case is a warning to employers about their obligations to workers when it comes to allowing leave.
Supermarket worker wins unfair dismissal
Adriana Stevens worked as a Duty Manager at Carlo’s IGA at Horsely Park in Sydney’s west for more than five years.
She applied to take annual leave over the Easter period in 2017 and went ahead and booked a holiday to Thailand.
However, her leave request was subsequently denied.
The decision upset Stevens, who told her manager that she refused to lose the $4,000 she had pre-paid for the holiday.
The manager warned Stevens that if she failed to turn up to work, her employment would be terminated.
Despite the warning, Stevens didn’t comply.
She worked her rostered shift on the 8th of April, then gave her keys to a colleague, and took the trip to Thailand.
On her return to Australia, Carlo’s IGA terminated her employment.
The Fair Work Commission
In the Fair Work Commission, supermarket management argued Stevens had abandoned her employment.
However, Commissioner Ian Cambridge found the employer unfairly dismissed Stevens.
He described management’s refusal to agree to the annual leave request as “unreasonable in the first place”.
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims says refusing an employee time to take accrued leave can be a form of wage theft.
“The Fair Work Act is very clear,” he said.
“Section 88 states that an employer must not unreasonably refuse to agree to a request by the employee to take paid annual leave.
“And that includes businesses with peak times that coincide with normal holiday periods.”
Commissioner Cambridge subsequently ordered Carlo’s IGA to pay Stevens 16 weeks pay, amounting to $13,400.
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