“Mediation has failed to resolve the legal dispute between Sally Rugg, the Commonwealth and Dr Monique Ryan.”
“Ms Rugg will seek to add claims of “serious contraventions” of the Fair Work Act against the Commonwealth. A serious contravention occurs where the breach of labour standards is knowing and systematic. The penalty for serious contraventions is a maximum of $660,000.00.
“The serious contravention claim is made in circumstances in which Dr Ryan publicly acknowledged that her staff were working 70-hour weeks and that it was not safe. In addition, the Commonwealth has been on notice of unlawful excessive hours being worked for Parliamentary staffers for many years, including by reason of inquiries and reports to Parliament. Most recently, Kate Jenkins’ 2001 Set the Standard report documents that staffers working excessive hours was an important factor in an unsafe workplace.
“Ms Rugg’s case will be a test case for what constitutes “reasonable” overtime or additional hours for parliamentary staffers and may impact other white -collar employees in the labour market.
“If Ms Rugg’s case succeeds, it will open the door for further litigation including class actions, not just for employees of the Commonwealth but for every Australian worker experiencing exploitation because of a contractual obligation to perform undefined “reasonable additional hours”.
“Tomorrow morning, the Federal Court will hear Ms Rugg’s application for an injunction to restrain the termination of her employment. After that issue is determined, Ms Rugg will then pursue her claims for compensation and other orders against the Commonwealth and Dr Monique Ryan.”
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