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Don’t feel bad if you’re not immediately sure where to classify an employee under a modern award.

In the case below, it took days in Court, an appeal, the combined brain power of the Full Court of the Federal Court and a 91-page judgment to classify this employee correctly.

The Case of King vs Melbourne Vicentre Swimming Club

One of the nation’s most respected swimming clubs was taken to court by a former coach, with allegations of underpayment.

Melbourne Vicentre Swimming Club has produced a string of Olympic champions, including Mack Horton, Giaan Rooney and Michael Klim, but was accused of underpaying its former coach Matthew King more than $200,000, according to court documents.

Mr King, who was responsible for the national youth squad until 2018, claimed his employment was covered by the Fitness Industry Award, which entitled him to penalty rates when he did not receive a 10-hour break between shifts.

Lawyers for Mr King argued the condition was not complied with when he regularly finished coaching shifts at 7.30pm and then began the following day at 5am. They also claimed underpayment of penalty rates for weekends, public holidays and broken shift allowances.

Mr King claimed that he first informed the club’s then chief executive, Nicole Livingstone, and former head coach Ian Pope that he was being underpaid during a performance review at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in 2014.

He claimed that Ms Livingstone told him in 2015 that he was covered by a different award.

In a defence statement, the swimming club claimed that Mr King was told by chairman Andrew Horton, the father of Olympic gold medalist Mack Horton, that he was not covered by the Fitness Industry Award because he was a ‘silver licence’ qualified swimming coach.

Ultimately it was up to court to decide whether or not Mr King was classified by the Fitness Industry Award by reason of his silver licence.

After days in Court, an appeal, the combined brain power of the Full Court of the Federal Court and a 91-page judgment this swim coach was finally classified under level 4 of the Fitness Industry Award 2010.

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BetterHR helps businesses implement effective people management strategies as well as best practice HR compliance.  Every day, our HR software and expert HR advice helps employers manage over 50,000 workers.

One area we specialise is in helping employers determine the correct modern award coverage and pay grades for workers. Our HR and employment law experts also deliver this advice in writing to help protect business owners and managers.

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