Jun 14, 2013

Fair Work decision a boon to working parents

The Fair Work Commission has ruled that a Melbourne IT worker should be allowed to return to work part time following her parental leave. Will the decision have a wider impact on working parents?

Chris Seage — Tax consultant and former ATO audit manager

Chris Seage

Tax consultant and former ATO audit manager

A recent decision in the Fair Work Commission has the potential to reshape the way employers think about part-time and job-sharing options for workers, including highly skilled parents returning from parental leave. The decision handed down last week by Commissioner John Lewin might even have implications parents who are not the primary caregiver but want to participate more in family obligations, according to a lawyer involved in the dispute.

Hanina Rind, an IT specialist from Melbourne, was employed by the the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees on a full-time basis in the position of database/IT systems administrator in the company’s Spring Street, Melbourne, office.  The company refused to grant Rind’s request to work three days a week after she returned from unpaid parental leave following the birth of her second child. Greens Melbourne MP Adam Bandt told Crikey: “Even with a comprehensive enterprise agreement in place, Ms Rind was sacked when requesting part-time employment, highlighting the challenges faced by women returning to work. The decision reinforces the need for a legal right to appeal if an employer unreasonably refuses flexible working arrangements.”

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