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MGMT2022 Foundations in Human Resources Law

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Assignment

The case of Locky Gilbert and Breezy Deliveries

LOCKY GILBERT has been delivering parcels for over 20 years, since long before online shopping became a thing. He prides himself on his excellent service to the people of southern Sydney, which is his patch.  

For those 20 years he has been delivering for a firm called BREEZY DELIVERIES which has contracts to deliver for medium to big retailers like Zara, Uniqlo, Big W, Freedom Furniture and Spotlight. Before BREZY hired him, Locky worked in hardware sales. He had always wanted ‘to be his own boss’, but had never thought he had any specific skills that would enable him to start a business. When an opportunity came up with Breezy, he leapt at it. Breezy hired lots of drivers, some were on its full-time, permanent payroll and others worked for themselves. 

Locky lives in San Souci and, in response to his advertisements in the local newspaper, smaller local businesses sometimes also hire him to deliver goods.

When he started working for BREEZY, Locky and the Company agreed he would provide an ABN and invoice BREEZY for his work on a fortnightly basis, according to the number of hours worked. BREEZY also advised him to get his own workers’ compensation insurance.  Locky lodges tax returns as a self-employed worker. 

Locky agreed to drive his own van, so long as BREEZY paid for reasonable maintenance and repairs. His van has the word ‘DELIVERY’ on it. Breezy requires Locky to wear fluorescent yellow T-shirts and black pants when making deliveries. 

When first hiring Locky, Breezy offered him a fixed hourly rate equal to the minimum wage rate in Australia at the time. Breezy promised that each year it would increase Locky’s rate, to match the basic minimum standard. Locky’s rate has been increased only once in the 20 years since, when nine years ago, Locky approached Breezy for a wage rise, citing increased petrol costs as a problem. Breezy promptly raised Locky’s rate by a flat $2 per hour.  

Breezy has always supervised aspects of Locky’s work, such as requiring him to undertake the regular health and safety training for drivers that the company provides, providing him with daily delivery lists, and suggesting a route for the daily delivery run. In terms of the delivery order, the firm always specifies which parcels must be delivered in the morning or afternoon.

When Locky first started working for Breezy, he would turn up every day at around the same time and receive the load for the day. Sometimes the deliveries would take 4 hours, sometimes ten. He was quite happy with the uncertainty. Ten years ago, Breezy introduced a more systematic management approach, in the process, reducing the number of drivers hired. From then on, Breezy has expected Locky to be available to work 8am to 4pm five days a week, and to respond to emergency delivery requests as required. There is a roster system for this emergency work, with most workers (including Locky) being ‘on-call’ one evening a week until 10pm. However, drivers are only paid for the hours worked. 

For 10 years now also, Locky has been required to inform one of Breezy’s supervisors if he is unable to attend work due to sickness or must start later than 8am or leave earlier than 4pm. He must also seek approval in advance to take holidays. However, Locky, who isn’t paid for holidays, has never taken them either, except for between 26th and 28th December each year, when the firm closes for a break anyway. 

Overnight, Locky’s situation took a dramatic tumble. The General Manager of Breezy decided to replace Locky with one of his nephews. The nephew had recently returned from overseas and needed a job.  At 9pm one night, Locky received a text telling him his services were no longer required. 

Since then, Locky has been reviewing his options. He believes that this dismissal is unfair and is very angry. He contacts the Fair Work Ombudsman, who advises him that, to make a claim to the Fair Work Commission (FWC), he will first have to demonstrate the FWC has the jurisdiction to hear the case. They say, this will depend upon whether he was, in fact, an employee or an independent contractor.

Question

What decision do you think the Fair Work Commission will make about its jurisdiction to hear this case? Justify your decision. 

MGMT2022 Foundations in Human Resources Law

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