A worker sacked for wanting to leave work early to attend Pilates classes has won her unfair dismissal claim.
The Fair Work Commission awarded the worker $23,000 compensation, criticising the company’s refusal to compromise with her.
Worker sacked for wanting to go to Pilates
The woman worked for Sydney-based ‘Pay Per Click’ for three years as an online campaign manager until November 2017.
The company sacked her following her refusal to sign a new contract changing her work hours from 9.00am to 5.00pm with a half hour lunch break, to 9.00am to 5.30pm with a one hour lunch break.
She refused to sign because the extra half hour meant she wouldn’t be able to get to her Pilates classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Classes she had already paid for.
Worker offers compromise
The worker suggested she finish at 5.15pm on those two days, and take 45 minutes for lunch, making it possible for her to make her classes.
The company rejected the compromise, and instead, sent the employee an email confirming her dismissal.
In the Fair Work Commission, the woman argued her dismissal was unfair, because it had nothing to do with performance or conduct, but rather, centred around changes to her employment conditions.
She also noted her offer of a compromise.
Pay Per Click said it had genuine operational reasons for requesting staff change their hours, because of incoming client queries until 5.30pm.
Commissioner Ian Cambridge described the the employment relationship breakdown as “unfortunate” because of a minor dispute over 15 minutes.
He also described Pay Per Click’s decision not to accept the worker’s compromise as “regrettable”.
“Essentially, the employer had expectations of more unquestioning compliance from the applicant.
“There was no defensible explanation for why the employer’s business could not accommodate the applicant leaving work 15 minutes earlier on two days of the week, particularly if such an arrangement might have some fixed period of operation.”
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at IR Claims, says companies need to consult effectively if they want to change hours of work.
“Employers must give employees plenty of notice of any proposed changes, and then need to listen to any legitimate concerns about those changes,” he said.
“For example, a worker might not be able to work different hours because of family commitments.
“In this case, it is hard to understand why the business did not accept the compromise offered by the worker.”
Commissioner Cambridge ordered Pay Per Click to pay the woman $22,882 compensation.
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