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Employers left scratching their heads

Unfair DismissalJanuary 12, 2015

Employers left scratching their heads (Last Updated On: January 12, 2015)

The Fair Work Commission is a governing body that ensures the workplaces and work practices of Australian businesses is fair. The FWC ensures protection of employees, and controls reinstatements and compensation should it be found that employers have not followed the correct legislation under the Fair Work Act 2009.

If a workplace incident or termination is deemed unfair employers are fined and reprimanded. It has come to our attention numerous times in the past year that sometimes even the darnedest of cases can be justified as ‘sensible’.

One humorous example from last year includes the unfair dismissal of a Coles employee who took a work tin of Milo home from the break room and “mixed it with chocolate, coffee and sugar – and brought the mixture [back] to work”. The FWC found that the employee’s actions were not theft and it was not a justifiable reason for termination. The employee was reinstated.

Another example was at a NSW state government Christmas party where an employee touched the breasts of his female colleagues but was reinstated because a second colleague who was involved in the same behaviour was only demoted.

Another shocking outcome for employers was a Thesis employee who sent a work email to his colleagues that incited violence towards Muslims. The FWC found that the dismissal was harsh and that the 65 year old man would “have trouble getting another job”.

Some employers however, can get it right!

There have been many cases where sensible outcomes have resulted. For example the Manly Ferry driver who was dismissed after crashing a ferry into a 10m wharf on the Parramatta River whilst under the influence of marijuana. The FWC found that the employer had the correct zero tolerance drug policy and that the dismissal was just.

The FWC, according to employment lawyer John Tuck, “will take a very common sense, practical approach to unfair dismissal”. Employers need to have confidence in their work practices. If you have the correct policies and procedures in place, you can restore your confidence in terminating employees.

If you are an employer and are currently unsure if you are correctly abiding by the Fair Work Act or if you have had employment relations issues in the past call Employsure. We can implement policies and procedures tailored to your business, to give you the peace of mind, and the ability to fairly conduct disciplinary procedures or termination. Give us a call today on 1300 651 415 or fill in the form below.

*Information sourced via the Australian Financial Review.

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