A business development manager was hired by a company named Magellan Powertronics Pty Ltd. The manager had been working for a total of three months in this position when she made queries with the business as to her entitlement to car and mobile phone allowances. Her query was based upon the contract she had signed which promised her these allowances. She informed her boss that its failure to pay her these items of compensation resulted in underpayment. She was consequently dismissed by the company. This claim could have been avoided if legal advice was taken from one of our legal experts.
She filed this adverse action claim. She contends that inquiring after worker’s entitlements is the same as ‘claiming a workplace right’ and that her dismissal was because she had justly claimed her workplace right to be paid the car and mobile phone allowances she had been promised as part of her compensation package. She further claims that this is a violation of the Fair Work Act.
The Fair Work Act protects workers from dismissal simply because they claim a right or make inquiries with their company as to their claim for a right. In this case, the business development manager’s contract specifically provided two items of compensation in the form of car and mobile phone allowances. When she was not given these allowances, and she made inquires with her boss as to her entitlement, her subsequent dismissal partook of an adverse action for claiming a workplace right.
The Fair Work Act allows a worker to inquire after entitlements from the business or from a court or regulatory commission. It is to be noted that the business development manager inquired from the General Manager and the Director of her company. They are officers of the company who belong to a class of persons to whom such inquires should be directed. Thus, the manager’s act of inquiring from the officers of the company she worked for is a reasonable exercise of a workplace right for which she should not have been dismissed.
The Federal Magistrates’ Court cautioned business owners against taking lightly their workers’ rights to inquire after their entitlements under their contract. Even if the workers are consequently found not to be entitled to the compensation they have inquired after, it is still their right to inquire after the terms and conditions of their contract. This right to inquire is guaranteed by the Fair Work Act. To dismiss someone simply because she exercised her right to inquire after her entitlements is an adverse action against a worker. This is the holding of the court in the case of Devonshire v. Magellan Powertronics Pty. Ltd. & ORS.
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