A Wollongong apprentice barber who was sacked after calling in sick on Australia Day has had a win in the Fair Work Commission.
Apprentice Con Mourmourakis had been employed at Bladerunner Cuts in Wollongong for more than a year when he told his boss, Muqdam Alkuzaie via SMS on January 25 that he wouldn't be at work the following day - Australia Day.
"Hey Mick," the SMS read, "went to the doctor. She said what I have is called gastro. Still not feeling good, won't be able to come in tomorrow."
This didn't impress Mr Alkuzaie, who alleged Mr Mourmourakis was faking it - "U keep doing it over n over, u acting sick".
"That's so unfair," Mr Mourmourakis responded. "I have not taken one day off sick since July."
On Thursday, February 28, Mr Mourmourakis again called in sick for the following day. The boss responded by saying he would be off every Friday from then on - which was a cutting of the apprentice barber's hours.
Several days later, Mr Alkuzaie sacked the apprentice, giving him two weeks' notice. After his dismissal, another person was hired in the apprentice's role.
Both parties attended a Fair Work Commission hearing in Wollongong in July this year, appearing before the commission's Deputy President Gerard Boyce.
Mr Alkuzaie gave three reasons for the dismissal; the role was no longer required, that Mr Mourmourakis' performance was below standard and being unavailable due to "alleged temporary illness".
Deputy President Boyce rejected the first two reasons but accepted the third.
However, the Fair work Act stated a person cannot be sacked "because of a temporary illness or injury".
"I find that there was no valid reason for the applicant's dismissal by the respondent," Deputy President Boyce's judgement read.
He also found the apprentice was not notified that was the reason for his sacking, nor was he given a chance to respond.
"I am satisfied that the dismissal of the applicant was harsh and unjust," Deputy President Boyce found.
Mr Mourmourakis did not want his job back - "nor do I consider it appropriate given the total breakdown in the employment relationship", Deputy President Boyce found.
Instead the deputy president ordered that a before-tax compensation of just over $3000 be paid to Mr Mourmourakis.