Sacked worker wins payout for childcare
FAIR Work Australia has awarded a woman unfairly sacked from a Victorian gym compensation for her childcare costs while looking for a new job.
In a ruling experts warn could force employers to change their attitude on future settlement payouts, FWA deputy president Greg Smith found childcare costs incurred while looking for a new job were "relevant" in determining compensation orders.
The employer, Nitro Gym in Kilsyth, Victoria, terminated the employment of part-time club manager Grace Wong after 10 months' work in a manner Mr Smith found to be unlawful.
But it was her successful claim for childcare costs while she sought a new job that workplace experts say has opened up a new avenue for compensation.
Mr Smith said he was "prepared to take into account some of the additional childcare costs".
"This is a cost incurred directly as a result of the termination of employment," he said, awarding her $7901, including $1379 in childcare costs. She had claimed $5976.62 in childcare over the six months after her dismissal.
Workplace lawyer Kathryn Dent told industry magazine Workforce Daily the decision could mean employers have to readjust their thinking on settlement offers to incorporate costs associated with finding new work.
"These provisions. . . aren't new, but we haven't seen any decisions under the Fair Work making an order like this," Ms Dent said. "Employers, in formulating a reasonable offer of settlement, will have to start thinking about including those types of amounts (childcare payments)."
Workplace law expert Andrew Stewart from the University of Adelaide said the ruling was reasonable, given Ms Wong was claiming for a cost incurred while trying to secure new employment which, if she succeeded, would bring down the overall compensation bill for her former employer.
"She's done the right thing by looking for work, and finding work, and in so doing so reducing the potential compensation bill for her ex-employer," Professor Stewart said.
"It's conceivable that this might be a groundbreaking case, maybe because no one has ever made a claim for it (childcare) before."