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Is it still okay to outsource?
Qantas loses in the High Court of Australia

Written by
Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Australia's leading independent law firm.
In a unanimous decision, Australia’s highest court has held that the national airline breached workplace laws in deciding to outsource service and baggage handling at 10 Australian airports, a move that was intended to save the company some AUD 100 million annually.

Australia’s Fair Work Act prohibits employers from taking ‘adverse action’ against employees in connection with their exercise of ‘workplace rights’, which include organising or participating in protected industrial action.

Where employees can prove adverse action – which includes termination – the employer must then prove that that action was not taken for reasons that include the exercise or possible exercise of workplace rights. In a case concerning 1,700 former employees, the High Court held that Qantas failed to do this. The Court’s decision means the case will return to the Federal Court, which will consider whether compensation and/or penalties will be imposed.

Detailed analysis of the case from Ius Laboris Australia, as well as reflection on other limits on outsourcing in Australia and possible legislative changes, can be found here.

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