By Nicholas Hartman
An employer who sacked a website developer without warning during their probationary period has been ordered to pay $20,000 in compensation.
The website builder was dismissed in April, after three months of work, with the employer explaining that she had not been performing her role.
However, the employee argued that she had not been made aware of any shortcomings in her work or given a chance to improve.
In an email to the Commission, the employer argued that the dismissal was fair as the website builder was on a three-month trial.
Commissioner Damian Matthews found that there was no mention of a probationary period or trial in the employee’s contract.
“In any event, it is still possible for a dismissal to be unfair where it occurs during a probationary period,” the Commissioner said.
“A probationary period does not give an employer carte blanche authority to treat people however they like”.
“You cannot simply overnight, or suddenly, tell someone they are not performing at the expected level and sack them.
“An employer has to discuss any shortcomings identified and give the employee a chance to improve.
“That is what fairness requires, you cannot just unilaterally sack someone on the basis of alleged poor performance without more, even if the person is on probation.”
In awarding the maximum compensation amount of $20,000 to the employee, the Commissioner added that it was “fair enough” that the website builder hadn’t sought reinstatement with someone “who is clearly a very bad employer”.
The Commissioner also ordered the employer to pay the website builder just over $3000 for underpayments and entitlements. Three other former employees were also ordered to be reimbursed a total of around $9500.