A new mum has negotiated $25,000 compensation after her boss refused her flexible hours after she refused to return to work full-time.
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a worker based in their parental status or family responsibilities.
Mum refused flexible hours
*Jane started working for the Queensland-based employment agency in December 2015 as an employment consultant.
She also worked as a coordinator of the NDIS rollout in the local area.
Already the primary carer for her 10 year-old step-daughter, Jane took six months maternity leave to have a baby boy, before returning to work one day a week.
The company soon asked her to increase her hours.
As a result, Jane agreed to work three days a week, after re-arranging child care and weaning her baby son off breastfeeding,
However, before starting her new new roster, Jane’s boss told her he needed her to return to work full-time.
When she told him that she couldn’t do it, the company hired another worker.
However, unlike Jane, the employer allowed the new worker flexible hours to drop off and pick up her children from school.
After enquiring about the new staff member, management accused Jane of bullying behaviour.
It gave her a written warning, detailing issues with her performance, despite never raising issues with her performance previously.
Consequently, Jane felt she had no other option but to resign.
Flexible hours refused leads to constructive dismissal
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Discrimination Claims, says the employer had effectively fired Jane.
“It’s called constructive dismissal, where an employer changes the working conditions of an employee, with the hope that they will resign,” he said,
The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission heard the case during a three-day trial.
However, before a judgement, the company admitted it failed to offer Jane flexible working arrangements.
Therefore, it had discriminated against her on the basis of her parental status and family responsibilities.
As a result, it agreed to pay Jane $25,000 compensation.
Important lesson for employers
Mr Heffernan says the case is an important lesson for employers not to discriminate against new parents.
“New mums need all the help they can get to get back to work, and employers need to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them,” he said.
“Therefore, if flexible hours or a different roster need to happen, then that must happen.
“When employers put up roadblocks to women returning to work, they deserve to feel the full force of the law.”
* name changed
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