Main Image - Is a student officer an employee of the organisation?

Is a student officer an employee of the organisation?

Curtin Student Guild recently had an elected student officer lawfully and reasonably removed from their council last year. The removed student then lodged an unfair dismissal claim.. 

The student's position on the Guild Council did attract some payment for the duties he undertook. The payment for these duties were processed on a fortnightly basis and the Guild also provided the elected student with annual leave entitlements as well as retained income tax if for any reason they earned above the threshold. For this reason the Guild were concerned that the payment would not be considered an honorarium and potentially the elected student may be considered an employee under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). 

The Guild originally formed an argument that the elected student was a specified task employee under Section 386(2)(a) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and his removal from council ended the task. However, it appeared that this was not necessary as the President of the Commission was not convinced thatt he student was an employee. 

The Guild made further submissions and were successful in challenging the Fair Work Commission’s jurisdiction in the matter as the Elected Student is not an Employee. 

Attached is the decision from the Fair Work Commission that finds that elected students are not employees, in the unfortunate event that you ever need to refer to this precedent decision in your own organisations.

Thanks to Brent Penberthy, Managing Director of Curtin Student Guild, for sharing.