Home ANZ employee does not have to move branches, FWC rules

UpdatesSep 09, 2019

ANZ employee does not have to move branches, FWC rules

ANZ Bank has been refused permission to appeal against a Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision that a bank teller could not be made to relocate to a more distant branch.

The 68-year-old employee, who suffers from arthritis, was told that her role at a suburban Melbourne bank branch was no longer required and that she would have to relocate to another branch an extra 35 minutes’ travelling time away.

ANZ Bank has been refused permission to appeal against a Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision that a bank teller could not be made to relocate to a more distant branch.

The 68-year-old employee, who suffers from arthritis, was told that her role at a suburban Melbourne bank branch was no longer required and that she would have to relocate to another branch an extra 35 minutes’ travelling time away.

The employee argued that under ANZ’s enterprise agreement, she could only be transferred to another work location if it did not involve an “unreasonable impact” on her travel time and costs.

However, ANZ disputed this. The employee then applied to the FWC to resolve the dispute.

In the dispute resolution hearing in May, the employee submitted that it was difficult to drive for longer distances due to her age and that her fuel costs could increase by 348%, not taking to account additional vehicle maintenance costs she would also incur.

FWC Commissioner David Gregory concluded that the relocation would “involve an unreasonable impact” on the employee, particularly in regard to:

Commissioner was wrong ANZ contended

In ANZ’s appeal against Commissioner Gregory’s decision, it contended that he erred in the following respects:

Accommodating mature-age worker not a ‘significant burden’ for ANZ

The full bench of Vice President Adam Hatcher, Deputy President Alan Colman and Commissioner Donna McKenna refused ANZ permission to appeal.

They believed Commissioner Gregory’s decision didn’t raise “any issue of importance or general application that would enliven the public interest” and they could only grant permission to appeal if it was “in the public interest to do so”.

“Even though it may be accepted that ANZ is a very large employer which transfers employees from one workplace to another with reasonable frequency, we do not consider that the decision has any precedential value in that context,” the full bench said.

“The Commissioner’s application of [ANZ’s enterprise agreement’s] provisions … was confined to the particular circumstances of [the bank teller’s] case.

“The Commissioner did not seek to establish any general standard as to when a proposed transfer will cause an unreasonable impact on an employee’s travel time and costs, and indeed the Commissioner found that it was only circumstances peculiar to [the bank teller] which rendered unreasonable what might otherwise be a reasonable impact for other employees.

“[W]e are not satisfied that any substantial injustice would ensue to ANZ if permission to appeal is not granted.

“The ‘worst-case’ result of the decision may be that ANZ will need to retrench [the employee] and pay her redundancy entitlements.

“If so, that would not in our view be a significant burden for an employer the size of ANZ.

“There may in any event be other alternatives which would allow ANZ to continue to usefully employ [the employee].

“[T]he grounds of appeal are not sufficiently arguable to justify the grant of permission to appeal.”

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