A childcare worker has won her job back at the Fair Work Commission after complaining that her employer made her work with babies against her will.
A childcare worker has won her job back at the Fair Work Commission after complaining that her employer made her work with babies against her will.

Child worker fired for refusing nappy change has job back

A preschool worker who was fired after ­refusing to take a job that would involve changing nappies and travelling to southwestern Sydney has won her job back.

The Fair Work Commission found childcare worker Penelope Phair, 70, was forced to resign after she was direc­ted to transfer from the Bondi branch of Active Kids to the Narwee branch where she would have to change nappies.

The commission heard that after being informed of the transfer by her manager Jodie Giannetto, Ms Phair asked: "Where's Narwee?"

She was told that instead of looking after older preschool-aged children as she had done in Bondi, she would have to look after babies.

Ms Phair did not want to work with babies. Picture: iStock
Ms Phair did not want to work with babies. Picture: iStock

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According to the judgment Ms Giannetto said words to the applicant to the effect of: "Don't tell me you don't want to do nappies - the decision's been made."

Ms Phair replied with words to the effect of: "I'm not ready to retire" and became emotional after being told the transfer would be permanent.

Her solicitor told the commission the childcare operator knew she would turn down the offer of work at Narwee because of the additional travel "and that it involved changing babies' nappies which the applicant would not accept".

The commission found that while Ms Phair had officially resigned on December 30 last year, the childcare centre had acted in a way intended to force her to quit her job.

The commission was told Ms Phair’s employers acted in a way designed to have her quit. Picture: iStock
The commission was told Ms Phair’s employers acted in a way designed to have her quit. Picture: iStock

"The actions of the ­employer established the ­constructive dismissal of the applicant," the commission said, adding its approach had been callous, undignified and uncaring.

Ms Phair was reinstated in her position in Bondi and ­received back pay for six months of work.

A lawyer for the preschool told The Daily Telegraph Ms Phair would be reinstated on August 25, but said in a statement the business believed all childcare workers should change nappies.

"All Early Childhood Educators are required to change nappies as they are respon­sible for supporting children's wellbeing, learning and ­development … including physical needs  such as nappy changing (and) toileting," he said.

Originally published as Childcare worker fired for refusing nappy changes has job reinstated


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