Qantas has been charged with breaches of workplace safety law after it stood down an employee who raised concerns staff could be exposed to COVID-19 when cleaning an aircraft that arrived in Sydney from China early in the pandemic.
The airline stood down an elected health and safety representative on February 2 last year, after he allegedly told colleagues it was unsafe to board and clean an aircraft arriving from Shanghai.
The incident prompted SafeWork NSW to investigate Qantas for possible discriminatory conduct against the health and safety representative, and the watchdog confirmed on Tuesday it had filed charges against the airline in the District Court of NSW.
The charges were laid under section 104 of the NSW Work Health and Safety Act, which prevents employers from discriminating against a worker for raising safety concerns or carrying out their role as a health and safety representative.
“The charges relate to [Qantas] standing down a worker who raised concerns about potential exposure of workers to COVID-19 whilst cleaning aircraft in early 2020,” a SafeWork spokesman said in a statement.
“As the matter is before the court, no further information can be provided at this time.”
The case is listed for its first hearing on December 6. Qantas has been contacted for comment.