Bus driver who 'left a child in a remote area' blames employer

Company said employer violated its 'no child ever be left behind' policy

Bus driver who 'left a child in a remote area' blames employer

In a recent Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision, a bus driver accused of "serious misconduct" after leaving a child in a remote area was held 'unfairly dismissed' by his company.

In September last year, the incident happened when a 16-year-old girl who wanted to board a bus in a remote area was told that she had the wrong ticket. The bus driver said he couldn't issue a new one due to a technical problem but the company said he put the child "at risk."

After failing to board the bus, the child called her mother, who drove over an hour to get her. The latter made a complaint to the company and the driver was dismissed.

The driver argued that he "did not nothing wrong" because he "simply told the [child] about the problem with their ticketing system." He said that she decided "not to board the bus and instead collected by her mother."

In dismissing the driver, the bus company said he had "discouraged the [child] from boarding the bus and left her." By doing so, the driver "placed the [child] at risk by failing to follow its policy that 'no child ever be left behind,' constituting serious misconduct and warranting immediate dismissal."

Before the FWC, it said that the company had a valid reason for dismissing the driver because he failed to abide by its policy. The company's policy was also upheld as "a lawful and reasonable direction in relation to a serious matter."

But the FWC Commission said that the decision to dismiss the [driver] without notice, although not unjust or unreasonable, was "harsh." It said "the company's own ticketing system played a role in the incident."

The FWC explained, "had the booking system accounted for the fact that [some passengers] had not boarded [at a designated stop], the driver would have been able to sell the [child] a new ticket, and she would not have been left behind."

Thus, it ruled that the dismissal was "unfair." Since reinstatement was not possible, it ordered compensation equivalent to what would have been the relevant notice period, less tax.

The decision was handed down on 21 December.

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