The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has upheld an apprentice’s unfair dismissal claim after their employment was terminated for refusal to work overtime. The employee often worked overtime hours on weekends, however one Sunday he refused to work. The employer warned him that if he failed to show up for the shift he would be dismissed. He did not attend work and was dismissed via text message. The employer submitted that the overtime demand was reasonable because the employee did not work the previous weekend nor was he scheduled to work the following weekend, and the job to be completed was urgent. The Commissioner viewed this submission as ‘incredibly misguided.’ In addition, it was found in the hearing that the apprentice was not being paid appropriate penalty rates for overtime hours. The FWC expressed sympathy for the pressure the business was under, however maintained that it was extraordinarily unreasonable to require a young, indentured apprentice to work repeated overtime on weekends, without payment of penalty rates. The employer’s conduct was found to breach the Fair Work Act 2009 and they were ordered to pay the apprentice eight weeks of wages in compensation. This decision highlights the importance of strict compliance with employment requirements set by legislation and industry awards. Contact M+E to find out more about the rights and obligations of employers and employees.

Read the full decision here.

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