2 min read

What are the risks of calculating entitlements incorrectly under multi-hiring arrangements?

The Case

Lacson v Australian Postal Corporation


Mr Lacson held two part-time positions with Australia Post. In the morning between 6am and 9am he was employed part-time as a Postal Delivery Officer, and between 3pm and 7:30pm he was employed as a part-time Postal Sorting Officer.

Mr Lacson commenced proceedings against Australia Post in the Federal Circuit Court claiming underpayment. He claimed that Australia Post, when calculating his overtime and other entitlements (such as rest breaks and meal allowances), should have combined the hours of work he performed in both roles. Mr Lacson claimed Australia Post owed him approximately $200,000 in unpaid entitlements.

The Verdict

The same enterprise agreement covered Mr Lacson’s two part-time jobs. The Federal Circuit Court had to determine whether:

  • Mr Lacson had two separate jobs under two contracts of employment; or
  • both Mr Lacson’s part-time jobs were simply different duties under the same contract of employment and hence comprised one job.

Mr Lacson argued both part-time positions:

  • were employed by Australia Post;
  • were covered by the same enterprise agreement and there were no multi-hiring arrangements; and
  • the proper construction of the relevant enterprise agreement supported Mr Lacson’s approach.

Mr Lacson argued the roles could only be treated as two separate jobs if different industrial instruments covered them or where the enterprise agreement included a multi-hiring clause.

The Federal Circuit Court held that Mr Lacson’s jobs were two separate part-time positions and hence could not be joined together to calculate Mr Lacson’s entitlements. The Court relied on the fact that two roles were performed:

  • at two locations 16 kilometres apart;
  • with distinctly different duties under different classifications;
  • using different employee numbers and different pay slips for each position;
  • at different times of the day with their own hours and completely independent of each other.

The Federal Circuit Court held that section 52(2) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) permits an enterprise agreement to apply to each separate position an employee holds with the same employer.

The Lessons

Many employees supplement their income under multi-hire arrangements. To reduce the risk of an employee arguing these arrangements should be added together for the purposes of calculating their entitlements, for each position employers should:

  • prepare separate contracts of employment;
  • have separate job descriptions;
  • have separate employee numbers;
  • have separate pay slips; and
  • have the employee complete separate timesheets.

Please note: Case law is reported as correct and current at time of publishing. Be aware that cases in lower courts may be appealed and decisions subsequently overturned.

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