Two jobs with one employer – how does that work?

When an employee has two jobs with the same employer, questions can arise as to the employee’s entitlements. This was the situation for an Australia Post employee who made a claim in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC).

Although this kind of arrangement may seem unusual, it is not unheard of. This case illustrates some of the pitfalls but also shows how an employer can manage this situation.

Facts

The employee commenced employment with Australia Post in 2001 in two different positions:

  • His first role was as a Postal Delivery Officer at the Collingwood Post office. He was first engaged as a casual and then as a permanent part-time employee. In this role, he was required to sort out mail and perform associated duties.
  • In the same year, he accepted a permanent part-time position as a Postal Sorting Officer, initially at the Port Melbourne Business Centre, and then from 2004 at the Melbourne Parcel Facility (Parcel Facility). This job required operating a forklift and loading bulk mail and parcels. In 2010, the employee requested additional hours, which were granted. He was paid overtime in respect of the additional hours he worked at the Parcel Facility.

Relevantly:

  • The employee was paid a different hourly rate for each role.
  • From 2001 to 2010, he received one pay slip which referenced one employee personnel number.
  • From 2010, he received two pay slips and was issued with a second employee personnel number for the second role.
  • The applicable enterprise agreement (EA) (and the previous enterprise agreement) covered both roles.

The employee lodged a claim in the FCC for underpayments, including for overtime, rest relief and meal allowance based on the cumulative hours of the two roles.

The relevant question was whether the employee’s two jobs should be viewed cumulatively as one ‘particular employment’ for the purposes of the EA.

The FCC decided in favour of Australia Post, and the employee appealed to the Federal Court.

Decision

The Federal Court agreed with the decision of the FCC, finding that Australia Post had not breached any of its obligations under the EA. Accordingly, it was not required to pay the employee the payments he had claimed.

The Court found that there were two genuine contracts of employment and that the employee chose to accept two different roles, at two different locations, performing different kinds of work. It was never represented to him that these two jobs were to be treated as one job and he would receive the additional sums of money he was claiming.

Lessons learned

Although this is a case that turns on its specific facts, it shows there are some ways to avoid being a party to a proceeding such as this.

For an employer with an employee or employees working two different jobs in one business, we recommend:

  • An employment contract for each role, clearly setting out the different duties, pay rates, classifications under any applicable modern awards or enterprise agreements, etc.
  • Two distinct employee personnel numbers and ensure that the employee is provided with two payslips for each pay period.
  • Ensuring that no representation is made to the employee, at the commencement of employment or at any time during the period of employment, that the roles are connected in any way.

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