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Long walk to freedom

Marco*, who has a cognitive impairment, had been employed for many years by a large national chain through an Assisted Employment Program. He had moved into a unit close to his workplace some years before so that he was able to live independently and walk to and from work.  Marco was unable to use public transport unaided and taking taxis was unaffordable.

As the result of a directive from head office, Marco’s work hours were changed so that he had to commence much earlier than previously. This directive, it was advised, was relevant to the type of duties he performed.

Marco and his parents were concerned that his safety was at risk as he would now have to walk to work in the dark. Significantly, being able to get himself to and from work independently was of great importance for Marco.

Marco requested a later start time, but his manager refused to grant this. Marco’s Assisted Employment Program representative was unwilling to become involved in this issue in case it affected other clients employed by the same company.

Basic Rights Queensland contacted the company’s state human resources manager to explain Marco’s case.  The HR manager accepted BRQ’s argument that an adjustment to Marco’s start time was the appropriate (and lawful) course and she advised Marco’s manager accordingly. The change was effected and Marco and his family were greatly relieved that the issue was quickly resolved and Marco could remain in his job and living independently.

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