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The Only Powerful Polices are Implemented Policies

Published September 08, 2021 (last updated June 6, 2022) - Head of Operations

Managing employees is a complex and challenging responsibility. Overlay the everyday challenges with an employee or employees who engage in inappropriate workplace behaviour and the stakes can be very high indeed.

Consider the unfair dismissal case that came before the Fair Work Commission of Risyad Chileshe v EnergyAustralia Pty Ltd in November of 2019. The employee had been engaged as a customer loyalty consultant for two and a half years prior to allegations he had breached the code of conduct and the employer’s diversity and inclusion policy in May 2019.

The ensuing investigation substantiated that the employee had asked an employee of Indian descent if he was related to Deepak Chopra and in a separate incident had intimated to a female colleague that her sexuality precluded her from becoming pregnant. It was also noted that the employee had received a first and final warning 12 months prior to these allegations after suggesting three employees of apparent Indian descent were doctors and when challenged by one stating he was not Indian, that he would be a ‘taxi driver’. The employee was terminated from his role and paid the statutory two weeks in lieu of notice. 

When considering a claim where a dismissal relied on breaches of policy, one of the important factors that the Commission must satisfy is that the employee was aware of the stated policies and had received appropriate training in their application. In this case, the Commission identified that the employee was aware of both the employer’s code of conduct and diversity and inclusion policies and, in fact, had received remedial training in the diversity and inclusion policies following the first and final warning in 2018. Subsequently, the unfair dismissal claim was dismissed, with the Commission finding that the employer been fair and just in their treatment of the employee.

While this case highlights the importance of robust employee policies, it also demonstrates the importance of providing employees with training on both the application of policies and consequences for non-compliance.

Employsure Face2Face can provide support to your business (that may be at an additional cost) to assist in you in rolling out your policies to your employees to help them understand the policies and consequences for breaches of same. Should misconduct occur at a later stage, we can return and assist you to manage a disciplinary process or conduct a grievance investigation, all the while, providing you with the confidence that procedural fairness is assured.

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About Employsure

Employsure is one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 30,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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