By James Atkinson

In an important decision for publicans who lease their premises, a Sydney operator that took over an abandoned hotel has beaten unfair dismissal proceedings taken by an employee who was sacked shortly after the transition to new management.

John Lucas Hotel Management Services took over the lease of World Square Pub in Sydney's CBD in August 2011 after the previous tenant, Wanslea Grove, abandoned the premises.

In December 2011, John Lucas dismissed an employee of the pub who had worked there under the previous management since July 2009.

The employee successfully convinced Fair Work Australia (FWA) that her period of service with the previous employer should count towards her period of employment for John Lucas, thereby rendering her a person protected from unfair dismissal.

But John Lucas successfully challenged this finding before the FWA Full Bench, arguing the worker was not a "transferring employee" because there was no "arrangement" between Wanslea Grove and John Lucas, whose agreement was with the owners of the hotel.

Australian Hotels Association (NSW) director of legal and industrial affairs, Phillip Ryan said the decision by the Full Bench "certainly clarifies who the parties to an arrangement must be and the interpretation of 'arrangement' for the purposes of a transfer of business". 

"This is an important decision for employers, particularly in industries where the leasing of businesses is common," he said.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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