Unfair Dismissal Claim every 3.5 Minutes
127 claims of unfair dismissal are made against an employer every day, with employers losing 60% of the time. These are incredible figures and highlight the challenges in managing staff in a small business.
Employers can be excused for making mistakes and constantly feeling under attack as they manage staff. Last financial year, the Fair Work Commission received 33,000 claims with unfair dismissals being the large majority at nearly double any other type of claim. There are some steps employers can take to minimise the risk of facing an unfair dismissal, including:
Clear Description Of Unacceptable Behaviour.
Employers need to train staff on acceptable conduct and include clear descriptions of unacceptable behaviour in employee handbooks. This can cover several aspects of employee activity such as absenteeism, sick leave, and behaviour such as bullying and harassment.
Don’t Keep Policies In A Drawer.
When employers have created workplace policies, it’s important that they enforce them and that staff know about them. It is also worth asking employees to sign something stating that they have read and understood the policy (and for employers to keep this record).
Reminding employees of the existence of the policies at relevant times is also a worthwhile exercise.
Consistency Is Key.
Any disputes should be dealt with consistently. Employers should adhere to their own policies and procedures. Addressing conduct issues in a consistent manner will help staff perceive what is appropriate workplace behaviour and what is not and will also reduce the risk of an allegation of unfair treatment due to inequitable application of the policy across the workforce.
Have Meetings Before The Situation Gets Out Of Hand.
If an employee is stepping outside of the defined code of conduct, employers may be within their rights to schedule a disciplinary meeting to clearly outline the employee’s unacceptable behaviour. Following this meeting, depending on the circumstances, a formal, written warning may be justified.
Employers should be careful in managing employee conduct, especially if it leads to a dismissal as the process may be heavily scrutinised and as illustrated by the statistics above there is every chance the employee will challenge the decision successfully.
We can help. If you find yourself unsure of how to manage staff dismissal or how to find out your rights as an employer contact us!