- The Federal Court has ruled Qantas Airways (QAN) did not misuse the JobKeeper wage subsidy, overturning a landmark Supreme Court ruling
- The justices found the national airline was within its rights to pay workers the minimum $1500 stipend and pocket the remaining funds issued under the scheme
- Earlier this year, Justice Geoffrey Flick ruled against Qantas’ interpretation, arguing the carrier hadn’t paid workers what they were owed
- If the decision wasn’t overturned, other businesses may have been called to backpay their employees
- Arguing against Thursday’s decision, unions claimed Qantas failed to provide appropriate pay, considering penalty rates such as weekends and holidays
- As COVID-19 decimated the tourism industry, Qantas has stood down employees without pay and announced it would outsource thousands of jobs
The Federal Court has ruled Qantas Airways (QAN) did not misuse the JobKeeper wage subsidy, overturning a landmark Supreme Court ruling.
The justices found the national airline was within its rights to pay workers the minimum $1500 stipend and pocket the remaining funds issued under the scheme.
Earlier this year, Justice Geoffrey Flick ruled against Qantas’ interpretation, arguing the carrier hadn’t paid workers what they were owed.
Flick argued that Qantas failed to properly divest the COVID-assistance funds to its workers. Now, the airline has repealed the decision and won.
The courthouse battle saw Qantas go back-and-forth with the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) and the Australian Services Union.
The unions argued that Qantas was carrying out a disservice to the purpose of JobKeeper, paying workers the absolute minimum necessary. Workers were paid $1500 per fortnight under the scheme.
Unions also claimed the airline was failing to pay workers the appropriate wages, including overtime for public holidays and weekend penalty rates.
This week, the TWU criticised the Australian Government’s decision to continue such financial support without scrutiny.
“This is no strings attached corporate welfare at its worst,” TWU National Secretary, Michael Kaine, said.
“The Federal Government is opening the public purse to the likes of Qantas without ensuring that the taxpayer is getting a good deal”.
If the Federal Court backed the Supreme Court ruling, the Business Council of Australia (BCA) warned it may affect other businesses who did not pass on the full subsidy.
Speaking to Thursday’s decision, BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott called it “a great relief to many businesses across the economy”.
“Today’s ruling will give businesses the certainty they need to get on with our biggest challenge, getting people back to work and creating new jobs for Australians,” she said.
This isn’t the first time Qantas has been taken to court in recent weeks. The Federal Court ruled in November the airline wasn’t required to pay sick leave to 25,000 workers that were put on time-out during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shares in Qantas gained 0.2 per cent across Thursday trade, closing at $5.10 each.