Termination letters sent to staff on sick leave

TASMANIAN Labor Senator Helen Polley attempted to terminate the contracts of two staff who are on extended sick leave, just two months after a Commonwealth inquiry concluded her office had an "unhealthy workplace culture".

Commonwealth workplace safety body Comcare began the investigation in March, after approving the claims of three staff for workplace bullying.

Two of those who had claims approved still work at Senator Polley's Launceston office, but have been on leave since February.

Last month, Senator Polley sent them a letter outlining her intention to terminate their contracts in the best interests of their health.

The letter, dated October 16 and on Senator Polley's letterhead, acknowledged the Comcare inquiry and said a decision about their employment would be made by October 25.

"Based on Comcare's advice, I believe that any attempts to resume employment would be potentially injurious to your health and welfare," the letter said.

"You will be aware that I do not have the capacity to employ you in any other manner, nor to arrange your redeployment to another senator or member.

"ln the circumstances, I believe that the best course of action would be to terminate our employment relationship."

The Examiner understands the suggestion to terminate was later retracted by the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

Senator Polley yesterday defended her employment of her daughter and niece at her electorate office, saying all personnel were appointed "in accordance with the requirements of the Members of Parliamentary Staff Act 1984".

"I have always abided by the relevant act governing the appointment of staff and I will continue to do so," Senator Polley said.

Senator Polley this week said she "absolutely rejected" allegations of bullying made by former staff this week, but acknowledged the Comcare investigation.

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