One Employer: Two Roles – Overtime Payments and Other Perils

One Employer: Two Roles – Overtime Payments and Other Perils

In Lacson v Australia Post Corporation [2019] FCA 51, an employee, Mr Lacson held two part-time jobs with the same employer, Australia Post. The first job was as a Postal Delivery Officer at Collingwood Post Office, and the second was as a Postal Sorting Officer at the Melbourne Parcel Facility.

His positions, with different working hours, rates of pay, and responsibilities, sparked a legal debate over entitlements under separate enterprise agreements.

Examining the Federal Circuit Court’s initial ruling and the subsequent Federal Court of Australia appeal decision sheds light on the complexities employers face when managing multiple roles within a single contract and the potential repercussions concerning overtime payments and award provisions.

The Issue in Brief

The pivotal issue was whether these roles should be considered separately or cumulatively for overtime calculations. The employer argued that the enterprise agreements applied separately to each job and, therefore, overtime calculations should be separate.

Federal Circuit Court Decision – Round 1
In the first instance, the judge ruled in favour of Australia Post.
The Court held that the enterprise agreements could apply to each job separately. This decision was reached based on the Court’s interpretation of section 52(2) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) which referred to ‘particular employment’.

Federal Court of Australia Appeal – Round 2
The case was later appealed to the Federal Court, where the justice upheld the previous decision based on various factors, including different contracts, working hours, locations, and pay rates. The Court stated that “particular employment” referred to a specific job or position and confirmed that the enterprise agreements could apply separately to each job.

Important Insights for Employers:

  • Employer Caution: Exercise caution when hiring individuals for multiple roles under one contract to prevent potential violations regarding overtime payment. Such arrangements might be viewed as an attempt to bypass overtime and award regulations. Note that negotiations on these arrangements might be permissible at the workplace level in certain cases.
  • Intentional Distinction: The Lacson case highlights a key difference from instances where employers deliberately evade paying overtime. In Lacson, the dual employment stemmed from the employee’s choices, not a deliberate strategy by the employer. Diverse circumstances might apply if an employer consciously evades overtime payments or misleads employees into assuming that multiple roles equate to a single job.
  • Restructuring Clarification: Instances involving restructuring, offering separate contracts for distinct roles within the same organisation, are less likely to be construed as attempts to avoid overtime payments. Such scenarios commonly emerge from restructuring efforts, maintaining the separation and distinction of roles.

How Enterprise Legal Can Assist

Navigating employment law and ensuring compliance with legal requirements can be complex, especially in cases involving dual employment. At Enterprise Legal, our specialised expertise in employment law ensures that your business remains compliant while addressing the intricacies of dual roles within a single contract.

Key Assistance Areas:

  • Employment Agreement Review: Enterprise Legal specialises in employment law, providing full-spectrum support from crafting and reviewing agreements to resolving disputes. We can assist in evaluating and refining existing employment agreements or craft new ones to guarantee full compliance with prevailing legislation.
  • Guidance on Compliance: Our team provides tailored legal advice on integrating legislative requirements into your business practices, ensuring adherence to overtime regulations and award provisions.
  • Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Applications: Our team assists employers and employees resolve disputes that occur in relation to an employee’s employment and workplace rights. We can provide tailored advice and, if necessary, assist in brining Applications before the Fair Work Commission.

For comprehensive legal support and guidance in managing dual employment scenarios within your business, contact our dedicated Business and Disputes teams today. Enterprise Legal is here to provide the legal expertise and support you need to navigate employment-related challenges confidently.

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