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Tribunal overturns decision on pet care

Jenny had been given an 8 week Unemployment Non-Payment Period after leaving her employment voluntarily. Jenny was working when her beloved pet fell ill with a rare illness. She accessed her sick leave, annual leave and unpaid leave from her employment but still needed to care for her pet for an unknown period of time – without any income. Jenny lived alone and considered her animals to be her family – for her, this was akin to caring for a sick child. Feeling she had no other reasonable choice, Jenny left her employment.

Centrelink assessed Jenny as having left her work voluntarily without a good reason. Basic Rights Queensland advised Jenny to appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Social Security & Child Support Division and to argue that it was reasonable in all the circumstances to leave her employment. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal accepted that

Jenny’s personal circumstances meant that it was reasonable for her to leave her employment to care for a dependent with a serious illness. As she was successful, Jenny was given back pay for the Non-Payment Period.

Jenny was now able to pay off debts that had accumulated during the non-payment period and, importantly, to maintain her housing. Jenny felt grateful that the Tribunal had recognised her unique situation and strong bond with her animal family which had led to her decision to leave work when she did.

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