The last six months or so has seen a flood of unfair dismissal cases where employees have declined to become inoculated against Covid 19 and consequently lost their jobs. The FWC has pointed out some facts attaching to this type of claim.
It has always been available to employers to instantly dismiss an employee and not pay Notice. But the circumstances in which this scenario is supported by the Unfair Dismissal regime under the Fair Work Act have narrowed over the years, as a recent case illustrates.
During the election campaign the then opposition announced several workplace policies with emphasis on the umbrella term “secure work”. Specifically, it indicated it would legislate a test for when a worker can be classified as a casual, provide that labour hire employees receive the same pay as direct hires and widen the FWC’s powers to include “employee-like” forms of work, which could include setting minimum standards for gig workers.
There is established legal precedent that a matter an employer did not know about at the time of dismissal can be relevant to the arguments against an unfairness finding later. Such a situation arose in a case examining if an employer’s main reason for terminating a nurse’s employment was valid. It was related to public health orders and vaccination and that part proceeded on its merits.
A hospitality industry employer has been condemned by the FWC for sitting on a 20 year old agreement which was, by any measure, seriously sub-standard to the award it displaced. The fierce censure was contained in both the FWC reasons for decision and in incidental commentary, highlighting the negative impact on employees and the gross disadvantage at which competitors of the employer were placed.
Often in bullying cases, the FWC is called on to distil if what has occurred is reasonable management action or bullying.
To properly assess whether an employee’s out of hours conduct is a valid reason for dismissal, an employer needs to make findings about the nature of the conduct and its relationship to the inherent requirements of the employee’s job, according to an appeal FWC full bench.
The tricky issue of exactly when has notice been effected, featured in two recent FWC decisions which examined when an employee knew, or ought to have known, of notice of an event.
Ross Clarke has more than a decade’s experience in the enterprise bargaining room.
The knowledge and skill he has acquired in this time has enabled him to develop a highly sophisticated planning and process model for successful enterprise bargaining. This proven methodology delivers results across all industries including distribution, hospitality, banking, retail, manufacturing, telecommunications and gaming.
“Ross’s knowledge of industrial relations and his ability to understand how and when to communicate internally with government; and with the media were instrumental in guiding the Association’s successful response to the campaign.”
Patrick Griffin OAM, Australian Hotels Association
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