An employee has been dismissed if the employee’s employment is terminated by the employer, or if the employee resigns because they were forced to do so because of the conduct of the employer (known as constructive dismissal).
A person has been unfairly dismissed when the Fair Work Commission is satisfied that:
A person can make an unfair dismissal claim if they have:
Employees must have served a minimum employment period before they can make an unfair dismissal claim. Minimum employment periods are:
Employers need to ensure procedural fairness is applied when dismissing an employee. When considering whether a dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable, the Fair Work Commission will look at all of the following factors:
The Small Business Fair Dismissal Code is a legislative instrument declared by the Minister for Employment.
After conducting a thorough investigation, it is fair for a small business employer to dismiss an employee without notice or warning when the employer has reasonable grounds to believe the employee was guilty of serious misconduct. Serious misconduct includes theft, fraud, violence and serious breaches of work health and safety procedures. For a dismissal to be deemed fair, it is sufficient, though not essential, that an allegation of theft, fraud or violence be reported to the police. The employer must base this report on reasonable grounds.
In other dismissals, an employer must give the employee a valid reason based on their capacity or conduct to do the job if they are at risk of being dismissed. The employee must be warned in writing that they risk being dismissed if there is no improvement. Further, the employer must provide the employee with an opportunity to respond to the warning, giving them a reasonable chance to rectify the problem. Rectifying the problem might involve the employer providing additional training and ensuring the employee clearly understands their job expectations.
If the employee makes an unfair dismissal claim to the Fair Work Commission, the employer will be required to provide evidence of compliance with this Code. This evidence may include the warning that has been given (except in cases of summary dismissal), a completed checklist, copies of written warning(s), and a statement of termination or signed witness statements.
All businesses should have employment contracts and clearly outline business policies and procedures in an employee handbook. Both should also define the terms and conditions of employment and provide clear disciplinary rules and procedures for dismissal. It is wise to have new employees sign their employment contract, handbook and induction checklist to show they have read them. Then you need to enforce those rules and procedures consistently and fairly.
Always follow correct procedure and have all the facts before you dismiss an employee. Employsure are specialists in all aspects of fair and unfair dismissals. Call us today on 1300 651 415 for specialist advice.