Treatment of elderly nurse was heartless and shabby, says workplace regulator

7 February 2010

The Fair Work Ombudsman has issued a stern warning to a Melbourne nursing home over what it describes as heartless and shabby treatment of a long-serving elderly employee.

The workplace regulator has put the company on notice that it will be closely monitoring its compliance with workplace law after an incident involving a 74-year-old nurse returning to duties after suffering a workplace injury.

The nurse - a long-time widow who worked the night shift from 10pm to 7am caring for aged-care patients - tripped, fell and broke her hip at work and spent seven months at home recuperating.

When the woman, who had worked at the nursing home for 26 years, returned to work, she was allegedly told by its new owners after just two shifts “not to come back”.

The nurse did not believe she had received her full entitlements on termination and complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

When a Fair Work inspector first contacted the nursing home, it initially denied that the complainant had been employed there.

However, after demanding to see employment records, inspectors subsequently found the nurse had been underpaid annual leave and long-service leave entitlements and for some hours worked.

As a result of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s intervention, the company has now reimbursed the nurse almost $30,000.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive-Director Michael Campbell says it is pleasing that the woman has since found alternative employment at another nursing home where she is working five night shifts a fortnight.

“While this matter has a happy outcome for the employee involved, we are shocked by the behaviour of this employer towards a loyal and long-serving employee,” Mr Campbell said.

“The community expects employers to treat their staff with respect and dignity, particularly someone who has devoted so much of her life to caring for the frail-aged.

“How would you feel if this was your mother or grandmother?”

Mr Campbell said the employer, which ran more than one nursing home, should consider itself lucky to escape prosecution.

“We felt that this woman had been through enough trauma and putting her through the further ordeal of a court case was additional stress she could well do without,” he said.

Employers or employees seeking assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman should contact 13 13 94 from 8am-6pm weekdays or visit

Media inquiries:

Craig Bildstien, Director Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484

Ryan Pedler, Media & Stakeholder Relations Senior Adviser
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924

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