Unfair dismissal – a reminder for employers

An unfair dismissal case published by Fair Work Commission in mid-January this year highlights the importance of educating employees about workplace policies. It is not sufficient just to have a policy, employees need to know about it.

Where an employer wishes to terminate an employee’s employment for breach of a workplace policy, it will be important to be able to show that the policy had been brought to the attention of the relevant employee.

This case also underlines how important it is to have documents (in this case a number of letters) that show that the employee in question was put squarely on notice as to the employer’s concerns and given a reasonable chance (in this case several chances) to participate in a discussion about those concerns.

The applicant was a Support Worker engaged to provide home care services to the employer’s clients; in this case an elderly woman in poor health.

The applicant was dismissed for non-compliance with the employer’s policies that provided for, amongst other things, reporting changes to the health of a client and not engaging in private work (off-the-books) for clients, as well as subsequently refusing to meet with her manager to discuss the employer’s  concerns about the alleged policy breaches.

The Fair Work Commission found that the employer had a valid reason for the dismissal and followed a fair process leading to the termination of employment.

Joy Lawrence v Calvary Home Care Services Ltd T/A Calvary Community Care [2016] FWC 175

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