Qantas recently won a case, on appeal, against two employees which confirms that in the absence of an Agreement in place, the two employees who had previously negotiated a job-share role did not have a contractual right to continue job-sharing indefinitely.
The two employees were originally employed on a part-time basis before jointly applying for a full-time position on a job-sharing basis back in 2008 in Perth. At the time, Qantas and the ASU had negotiated an Agreement, at the federal level, which covered job-sharing but anticipated that Agreements would be made at a local level around the country.
At the time the two employees commenced the job-sharing role, an Agreement had not been reached at the local level and the employees were offered the role on a provisional 6 month basis and if the trial was successful for a further 4 and a half years. At the conclusion of the fixed term, Qantas advised the employees that they would need to re-apply for their job share role and noted that the arrangement was due to expire.
The employees sought to argue that they had a right to continue in the job share role on an indefinite basis and that the basis for this was to be implied into their employment contracts.
The employee’s position was upheld at first instance before being overturned on appeal. On appeal, the full bench held that the employees’ original part-time contracts allowed Qantas to change or vary their hours, with notice, for operational reasons and that their job-share arrangement was still subject to the terms of that contract.
The full bench also found that there was insufficient evidence to support the argument that custom and practice had reached a level whereby an implied term should be read into the contract.
Qantas Airways Limited v Joyce and Gartside  WAIRC 01192
The employment contract is a key factor in determining working hours and patterns. In this case a job-sharing arrangement was put in place for two existing employees for a set period of time. Their employment was still subject to the original contract terms which allowed the employer to change the employee’s working hours.