Kieran had a part-time job as a handyman with a local aged-care facility. He worked a full day on Saturdays and was on call on Sundays and three week nights. Callouts were rare and the money for being on call made a big difference to him.

A couple of weeks ago, Kieran’s mum was in a car crash and it was going to be some time before she could manage things like cooking and cleaning again.

Kieran’s dad worked in a mining job that took him away from home for long periods, so Kieran had to help out more around the house and also drive his younger brother to sports events and to friends’ places.

Kieran told his boss at work about his mum’s accident and she said that they wouldn’t have him on call for the next couple of months, as obviously that wouldn’t be fair to his family.

Is this discrimination? If so, what kind?

This is caring responsibilities discrimination.

Even though the boss may have intended to be helpful, assuming that someone cannot do their job because of their caring responsibilities is unlawful.

It is up to Kieran to decide whether he can continue being on call despite the new demand on him to be a carer.

What could Kieran do?

  • Talk to the boss and explain that he believes he can still do all the callouts. They may be able to agree that he continue to do them.
  • Speak to the Young Workers’ Legal Service for advice.
  • Contact his union.
  • Complain to the our office.

What should Kieran’s boss have done?

The boss did not need to do anything.

She could wait and see whether Kieran has any trouble responding to callouts. There may have been no problem.

If she is concerned, she could ask if Kieran still wants to remain on call and they could discuss how he will manage.

If Kieran says he will continue to be on call, but he starts to have trouble, for instance, he doesn’t respond to a callout because of responsibilities at home, the boss is entitled to take this up with him as a disciplinary matter.