VIC: Another council scraps home care, enters fight over staff redundancy payments

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Ratepayers in Maribyrnong (10 kilometres north-west of Melbourne CBD) may foot the bill for almost $2.4 million in payouts for staff redundancies after local councillors decided to outsource home care services in a controversial vote.

The Maribyrnong and Hobsons Bay Councils are sub-contracting domestic assistance and in-home respite for older people and people with disabilities to the Not For Profit, Uniting AgeWell, due to possible changes in federal funding.

Maribyrnong council launched action in the Federal Court to argue that a clause in its employment agreement with staff meant it did not need to pay out redundancies, because it was assisting their transfers to Uniting AgeWell.

But the Australian Services Union maintains that the redundancies should still be paid – and the Court agrees.

According to a principal lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, the Federal Court decision in favour of staff means that Council workers made redundant will be entitled to payments estimated at $2.37 million.

Maribyrnong Council community services director Clem Gillings said the council now has 28 days to review this decision and is seeking further legal advice on the matter.

As we reported here, it is becoming more common for local councils to pull out of delivering home care services, as competing with larger operators becomes increasingly more difficult.