A labour hire worker at the City of Newcastle says council discontinued his services because he was absent from work while defending his parent's home in the bushfire-ravaged town of Bobin.
Council has rejected the claim, saying "the reasons for the termination are well known to Mr Carroll and the labour hire company through which he was employed".
Beau Carroll, of Islington, said he had been providing bushland regeneration services to council for the past seven months. Mr Carroll said he had received a text from his employer, Forsythes Recruitment, on Friday, November 8, confirming he would be required to work on Monday.
Mr Carroll said he sent a message to his council supervisor on Sunday at 4.50 pm letting them know he would not be able to work until "probably Wednesday" as he would be helping his parents clean up after bushfires. In the message he said the property was out of mobile phone range.
Mr Carroll's parents live in Bobin on the Mid North Coast where homes and parts of the local primary school were destroyed.
Mr Carroll said he spent Monday and Tuesday defending the home from fires. On Tuesday, when conditions were declared catastrophic, fires came within 50 metres and were spotting 30 metres away, he said.
"A couple of close family friends lost their homes and one of them was there helping us save our house because his was already gone."
On Wednesday Mr Carroll stayed to clean up.
"It was difficult to leave because of all the fallen trees."
The 34-year-old said he did not make further contact with his employers. However, when he drove into an area with mobile reception on Thursday afternoon, he found he had received messages from Forsythes, saying he did not have a shift the following day and to call, and from council supervisors, saying he would not be required for the rest of the week.
When he rang Forsythes, Mr Carroll said staff were apologetic and told him council had decided to discontinue his services due to lateness.
"It was not what I wanted to come back to," Mr Carroll said. "I was always punctual. I was not late, ever. I had not received any disciplinary warnings. They basically sacked me because I hadn't turned up that week."
A council spokesman said that was incorrect.
"City of Newcastle rejects Mr Carroll's suggestion that his short-term contract ended due to him fighting bushfires," he said. "City of Newcastle offers its permanent staff up to five days additional paid leave annually if they participate in volunteer work during a natural disaster. This includes cases of approved leave for staff during the recent bushfires that Mr Carroll was involved in."
The leave provision is not available to those in labour hire arrangements.
Forsythes Recruitment did not respond to a request for comment.
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