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It was a widely known fact that outsourced workers receive lower pay from employers, along with fewer perks. But should they also be denied the right to take a coffee break?
In Australia, a contract cleaner hired by property service company Glad Group to clean CMC Markets’ office in Sydney was fired from his job for having a cup of coffee before he started his shift.
A manager at CMC reported him for stealing coffee from the company and he was fired from his job, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
A workplace relations tribunal found this charge absurd and said it lacks common sense, it awarded the cleaner $9,187.20 in wages lost due to his dismissal and he had the right to have his job back.
In deciding the dismissal was unfair, Fair Work Commission vice president Adam Hatcher quoted the modern philosopher Alain de Botton: “Office civilisation could not be feasible without the hard take-offs and landings effected by coffee and alcohol.”
The incident took place on January 12.
The cleaner arrived 45 minutes early for his shift and had a cup of coffee with another colleague while waiting for their 6.30pm starting time.
When the cleaners walked to the office lifts with their coffee cups, a CMC office and facilities manager asked them where the coffee was from.
She said: “You are not allowed to make coffee.”
The cleaner then replied: “We are sorry, we did not intentionally want to upset you. We did not know we were not allowed to.”
When she agreed with him, the cleaner assumed the apology had been accepted.
But the manager reported the incident and escalated her complaint to Glad, which sacked the cleaners for serious misconduct, despite their explanations and apologies for any misunderstanding.
In his ruling on the case, Hatcher said Glad Group’s definition on stealing was ‘absurd’ and based on this rule of thumb, the consumption of a glass of water drawn from a client’s tap on a hot day would also constitute theft.
He continued “The use of a client’s toilets to answer an urgent call of nature without express prior permission would be a trespass. It is an approach which, for the reasons stated, I reject,” he said.
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