Sally Rugg claims Monique Ryan sacked her for refusing to work ‘unreasonable’ hours
Ryan declined to comment.
According to the Fair Work Act, employees can refuse to work unreasonable hours based on a number of factors including their health, personal circumstances, the usual requirements and patterns of work in the industry, and the employee’s level of responsibility.
Rugg also referred to the enterprise agreement for MPs’ staff, which sets out the parameters of regular and additional working hours.
The agreement also says the level of pay provided to politicians’ constituents and personal staff, including allowances and other benefits, reflects an expectation they will regularly be required to work more than a standard week.
The case was launched against the backdrop of the Albanian government slashing the staff allocation for independent MPs from four to one last year, over which Ryan accused Labor of attacking the crossbench.
“This measure is aimed at reducing the effectiveness of community independents in particular,” she said in June.
Parliament House has also placed greater focus on its own workplace practices and treatment of politicians’ staff following the release of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ Set the Standard report in late 2021, and other high-profile allegations regarding parliamentary culture.
A review published in October by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet recommended that politicians’ ability to terminate their staff should be limited.
After her recruitment, Rugg told this masthead’s CBD column that she had been attracted to Ryan since her performance in a town hall debate against Frydenberg midway through the election campaign.
“What attracted me to Monique was of course the policy priorities – climate change, gender equality, integrity and transparency in politics – but also her approach as a grassroots, community-connected independent,” she said.
In July, Ryan described Rugg as an “outstanding all-rounder with excellent leadership experience, a proven track record of effective policy advocacy and high-level strategic communication skills”.
She praised Rugg’s experience as a political strategist, including supporting the Home to Bilo campaign to return a family of asylum seekers to the Queensland town of Biloela, women’s safety in Parliament House and ABC funding.
An interim hearing before Judge Debra Mortimer has been set for 10.15am in Melbourne on Friday.
Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can subscribe to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.