Department of Justice

Tasmanian Industrial Commission
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Industrial Relations Act 1984
s.29 application for hearing of industrial dispute

Australian Municipal, Administrative, Clerical and Services Union
(T9829 of 2001)


TT-Line Company Pty Ltd
ACN 061 996 174



HOBART, 30 October 2001

Industrial dispute - alleged entitlement to pro rata long service leave payment - spouse of applicant transferred in employment - domestic or other pressing necessity - application granted - order issued


[1] On 4 October 2001, the Australian Municipal, Administrative, Clerical and Services Union (the applicant) applied to the President, pursuant to Section 29(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1984, for a hearing before a Commissioner in respect of an industrial dispute with TT-Line Company Pty Ltd arising out of the alleged entitlement to pro rata long service leave for Mrs Michelle Reeves.

[2] On 8 October 2001 the President convened a hearing before myself at Devonport to commence at 10.30am on Wednesday 17 October 2001.

[3] When this matter came on for hearing Mrs M Midgley appeared for the ASU. Mr P Heerey, a solicitor, sought and was granted leave to appear for the employer.

[4] This matter concerns an application by Mrs Michelle Reeves for the payment of an allowance equivalent to pro-rata Long Service Leave. By virtue of Clause 27 of the TT-Line Shore Based Employees Enterprise Agreement 2000 the relevant statute is the Long Service Leave [State Employees] Act 1994.

[5] Section 20 of this Act provides for a pro rata entitlement when an employee has completed at least seven years but less than ten years of continuous employment and:

"[ii] resigns because of domestic or other pressing necessity; or"

(6) Mrs Reeves commenced employment with TT-Line on 7 February 1994. Her employment terminated on 7 September 2001. The employer acknowledged that the continuous employment requirements had been satisfied and hence this application turns on the question of whether the circumstances of Mrs Reeves' resignation constituted a "domestic or other pressing necessity".

(7) It is a matter of regret that Mrs Reeves was not called to give evidence either in person, per telephone or by lodgement of a statutory declaration. However as the facts on which this application turns are clear, this is not a barrier to the determination of this matter.

(8) Mrs Reeves' letter of resignation dated 24 August 2001 reads as follows:1

"It is with regret that I write to you to advise I am giving two weeks notice of resignation from my position of Holiday Travel Consultant within TT-Line.

My husband Damien has been transferred to Queensland, commencing 22 September 2001. I have enclosed a letter from Brad Pearce from Telstra addressed to TT-Line confirming the transfer.

At this point I would like to request the possibility of you looking into a sales orientated position within the company that I may possibly be able to take up upon our move to Queensland, as I would dearly love to continue working for TT-Line.

As I am unfortunately leaving Tasmania due to Damien's transfer if I am not able to continue work with TT-Line in Queensland, I believe that I am entitled to pro-rata long service leave due to pressing domestic necessity.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those people within the company that have given me the chance and opportunities to learn so much and develop many important skills that I hope to continue to use.

I have been and still am proud to work for TT-Line."

(9) The employer acknowledged that TT-Line was unable to offer Mrs Reeves employment in Queensland.

(10) The applicant's case is straightforward. In summary Mrs Midgley submitted that Mrs Reeves' husband had been transferred in his employment with Telstra to Queensland. The circumstances of the transfer are not relevant. Mrs Reeves made the perfectly reasonable decision to move with her husband to Queensland thus necessitating her resignation from TT-Line. This set of circumstances, Mrs Midgley submitted, clearly constituted a domestic or other pressing necessity.

(11) The employer called evidence from Mr Glenn Patrick Pipkin, Manager Personnel and Workers' Compensation with TT-Line. Mr Pipkin's evidence went to correspondence and conversations with Telstra officials as to the circumstances of Mr Damien Reeves' employment transfer.

(12) Upon reviewing this evidence I am satisfied that there was a significant element of choice in the decision taken by Mr Reeves to transfer to Queensland. I am also satisfied that Mr Reeves would not necessarily have been made redundant had he declined the transfer option.

(13) On 10 September TT-Line wrote to Mrs Reeves in the following terms:2

"I refer to your request to pay your Long Service Leave entitlement with reference to clause 20 of the State Govt Long Service Leave Act.

You have requested payment because you believe you have resigned due to domestic or other pressing necessity as per the Act.

TT Line is unable to establish your entitlement to this payment for the following reasons:

  • We are unable to establish that there was a pressing necessity based on letters forwarded by Telstra and also a follow up phone call to Andrew Cameron (Area Service Manager).

  • TT Line does not view this situation as a pressing necessity but a normal choice to transfer interstate.

  • Telstra advised by phone call on the 10/9/01 that Damien made a choice to take up a position in Queensland and the issue of redundancy was not in fact discussed.

  • The issue of pressing necessity or (urgent need) has not been established sufficiently given regard to all the circumstances of this matter.

  • The company bases its decision on the fact that there was not an urgent need for this situation to arise but a matter of choice in the domestic situation.

A copy of this letter has been forwarded to the Australian Services Union."

(14) Mr Heerey submitted that Mr and Mrs Reeves made a mutual decision for a lifestyle change. He said adopting a plain English interpretation of the word, "that 'necessity' implies the removal of choice to a substantial degree". There was nothing that compelled Mr and Mrs Reeves to relocate to Queensland.

(15) Mr Heerey also submitted that I should have regard to two public interest considerations. Firstly, the financial impact on the wider public service should the application be granted and a precedent created, and secondly, the impact on population decline on the north west coast if workers are effectively encouraged to accept their entitlements and move interstate.


(16) I accept the submission of Mrs Midgley to the effect that the circumstances of the transfer of Mr Damien Reeves are largely irrelevant. The undisputed fact is that he was transferred in his employment and the question of compulsion or choice has no material bearing on the decision taken by Mrs Reeves to relocate with her husband to Queensland.

(17) Notwithstanding the absence of first hand evidence, I accept that the real and motivating reason for Mrs Reeves' resignation was the transfer of her husband.

(18) I further find that these circumstances constituted a domestic or other pressing necessity within the meaning of the LSL Act. In support of this finding I refer to Thomas v The Examiner Newspaper Pty Ltd3 whereby the then Commissioner Watling reached the same conclusion in similar circumstances.

(19) In Section 29 matters the Commission is not formally bound by the statutory public interest requirements of Section 36. Nonetheless I do take Mr Heerey's submissions seriously. I do not however accept that this decision will open the floodgates. This decision does not imply that an employee who, of their own free will, moves interstate will have a pro rata long service leave entitlement. The domestic or other pressing necessity on the reasonable person test, is that an individual has no reasonable alternative but to follow a spouse who has been transferred in employment.


(20) Pursuant to Section 31 of the Industrial Relations Act 1984 I hereby order that TT-Line Company Pty Ltd pay to Mrs Michelle Reeves, C/- Australian Municipal, Administrative, Clerical and Services Union, 265 Macquarie Street, Hobart, Tasmania 7000 an allowance calculated in accordance with Section 20[2] of the Long Service Leave [State Employees] Act 1994, such payment to be made within twenty one days of the date of this decision.


Tim Abey

Mrs M Midgley for the Australian Municipal, Administrative, Clerical and Services Union.
Mr P Heerey, a solicitor, with Mr G Pipkin, for TT-Line Company Pty Ltd.

Date and Place of Hearing:
October 17

1 Exhibit R1
2 Exhibit R6
3 T5390 of 1995