The Federal Court has confirmed that employees can have more than one job with a single employer and that each job can be treated separately for the purposes of calculating allowances and overtime.
In Lacson v Australian Postal Corporation , an Australia Post employee worked as a part-time Postal Delivery Officer at the Collingwood Post Office and as a part-time Postal Services Officer at the Melbourne Postal facility. Each role had distinct duties and the employee typically worked for three hours each morning in his Postal Delivery Officer role, then would go home to rest before commencing work in his Postal Services Officer role in the afternoon. Both jobs were covered by the same enterprise agreement (Agreement), which provided for overtime and various allowances, but had been applied for and accepted by the worker at different times. Under the Agreement, the two separate positions correlated with different classifications and attracted different rates of pay.
The Federal Court accepted that there were two separate contracts of employment which were covered separately by the Agreement. The contracts were entered into at different times, on different bases, with respect to different jobs that were based at different locations with distinct working hours, and involved different duties and different rates of pay. The Court also found that there was no evidence that Australia Post had instigated these working arrangements in order to avoid its obligations under the Agreement or that it had represented to the employee that the two roles would be treated as one job. On that basis, it was held that the employee’s hours in each job were not cumulative with the other and the entitlements he had claimed were not payable.
Lessons for employers
Employers wishing to engage an employee to work in multiple roles within their business must ensure that the roles are sufficiently separate in order to avoid potential cumulative liability for overtime, allowances, and penalties. Such employees should be engaged under separate employment contracts for each role, and their duties in each role should be distinct.
Employers also need to be alive to the potential health and safety risks that can accompany multi-hiring arrangements. It is important to ensure that employees who occupy multiple roles within the organisation have adequate rest time in between their rostered hours of work across both positions, and are not working “unreasonable” hours.
CIE Legal’s HR Law team regularly assists businesses with employment issues such as classification of workers, employment contracts and managing occupational health and safety responsibilities.
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