On 11 December 2020, Spotless Companies were refused leave by The High Court to appeal against a Federal Court Judgment holding them liable for redundancy pay for employees who lost jobs when Spotless lost a contract.
The Full Federal Court previously rejected two Spotless appeals in July 2020, against two judgments holding them liable for redundancy pay. The original judgments held that Spotless should not deny redundancy pay to workers at the Sunshine Plaza Shopping Centre, in Queensland and Perth Airport in Western Australia, when Spotless lost cleaning and security contracts in 2014 and 2015.
Despite having held the contracts for over 12 years, Spotless claimed that redundancies following the contract losses were ‘ordinary and customary turnover of labour’ under a Fair Work Act loophole and workers were not entitled to redundancy pay.
Spotless asked the High Court to overturn the previous adverse judgments on the basis that they say an employer is required to apply a complicated multi-factorial test in order to work out whether they should pay redundancy pay or not.
United Workers Union opposed Spotless being granted leave to appeal, on the basis that the federal court judgments correctly found that the employees were entitled to be paid redundancy pay.
United Workers Union states that:
“Spotless complicated matters by trying to exploit a loophole in the Fair Work Act.”
“The exception ‘ordinary and customary turnover of labour’ should be removed from the Fair Work Act. It is an archaic provision that could delay or deny redundancy payments to retrenched workers who need the immediate funds to pay bills and fund job searching activity.”
“Spotless have recently employed security guards at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and told them their employment is tied to a contract ‘expiry date’ of November 2041 and that Spotless will not pay redundancy pay if the guards lose their jobs on that day. Spotless are now trying to create dodgy 20-year fixed-term contracts.”
“United Workers Union will continue to fight for our members’ rights at work, either on the job or as in this case, all the way to the High Court if that’s what it takes.”