Israel Folau’s sacking isn’t about “freedoms”, it’s about contract – and that matters for nurses and midwives

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The pending termination of Israel Folau’s contract over offensive comments is a straightforward contractual matter, according to a leading lawyer, and nothing else. The concept holds true for the conduct of nurses and midwives.

According to lawyer Michael Bradley, it has been “unsurprising” that Israel Folau’s pre-eminent sacking has been linked to allegations of restrictions on freedom of speech, “given how fraught the whole issue of freedom of speech and religion has become”.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Bradley explains that this simply should not be the case.

“Folau is a contracted employee with clearly understood obligations which exist specifically to ensure that Rugby Australia’s people behave in accordance with the organisation’s values. One of their values is inclusiveness. Folau’s conduct contradicts it, Bradley argues.

“Rugby Australia is entitled to act on his contractual breach and, more importantly, it has no obligation to compromise its values by continuing to employ a person who refuses to abide by them. It’s a straightforward matter, and there’s no basis for trying to make it something else”.

Like Folau, nurses and midwives are obligated to conduct themselves in a certain manner. Whether it be due to their professional obligations, enterprise agreements or employee codes of conduct, all staff are required to act in a manner consistent with the values of their employer and their profession.

This means that nurses and midwives need to uphold certain ideals both at work and outside of it, regardless of their personal beliefs. This has wide-ranging implications on a number of issues from opinions on vaccinations and various health practices, to views on inclusivity and diversity.

This is important not only for current employment, but also in regards to continued registration as a health professional.

Are you in trouble for breach of contract or professional obligations? The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association may be able to assist. To join, visit their website today. 

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