A group of unions have come together to announce they will launch a lawsuit against Qantas over its decision not to pay stood down workers sick leave.
Qantas stood down 20,000 workers after heavy international travel restrictions were put in place by the government and have since denied these workers the use of sick leave during this time.
The Qantas Engineers Alliance Unions, which includes the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Electrical Trades Union and Australian Workers Union, said it would make a claim against Qantas this week in the Federal Court.
The unions believe the airline should be paying stood down employees sick leave to ensure they are able to extend annual leave or long service leave if they feel unwell.
Electrical Trades Union national secretary Allen Hicks said, “Usually, employees on annual or long service leave can access sick leave if they are unwell, and have their other leave re-credited. But Qantas is leaving workers unable to access sick leave, even if they contract COVID-19. This is an absolute disgrace.”
The Alliance Unions have sought legal advice, and on the basis of that advice today, have decided to file an application in the Federal Court to dispute the interpretation of the National Employment Standards (NES) by Qantas with respect to accessing sick leave while stood down.
Qantas’ refusal to pay workers sick leave if they should get sick while stood down is a breach of the rights of all Australian workers as set out in the national minimum standards (the NES) and the Fair Work Act, and is absolutely unacceptable.
AWU national secretary Daniel Walton said, “Our workers are the ones who are cleaning potentially contaminated planes to make them safe for passengers to fly on in the future.
“They could contract COVID-19 before being stood down, and yet Qantas is refusing to pay them their sick leave. It shows a total disregard for the wellbeing of their workers. Qantas is just trying to squeeze workers for every last dollar.”
The unions will file this claim urgently to ensure workers who are stood down receive the maximum entitlements available to them.
“Qantas has received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars from the federal government, and now they are trying to weasel their way out of paying workers their sick leave entitlements while they’re stood down. This is a company that will do anything to inflate its budget bottom line at the expense of its workforce”, said AMWU national assistant secretary Glenn Thompson.
The Alliance Unions will file an application in the Federal Court that disputes the interpretation of the National Employment Standards with respect to sick leave – also known as personal leave – while employed but stood down.