NatRoad 2015: Why terminating employees correctly is crucial

By: Brad Gardner, Photography by: Brad Gardner


Prepare to pay if you don’t follow correct termination procedures, NatRoad IR manager says

NatRoad 2015: Why terminating employees correctly is crucial
Trucking operators are leaving themselves exposed to unfair dismissal claims if they fail to follow termination procedures, Arthur Spottiswood says.

 

Trucking operators have been told to expect some hip-pocket pain if they fail to follow correct procedures when sacking an employee.

NatRoad’s industrial relations adviser, Arthur Spottiswood, has urged businesses to make sure they comply with their workplace obligations.

He says he usually receives a call each week from a NatRoad member seeking advice after sacking an employee and subsequently receiving a letter from the Fair Work Commission (FWC) regarding an unfair dismissal claim.

Sacked employees only need to pay a small fee to launch a claim, but Spottiswood says an unfair dismissal against a trucking company can be expensive.

"The short and simple answer is there is a process that you need to follow in disciplinary proceedings…The process is if you have got an issue with employees no matter how small it is, have a non-conformance system in place and use it," he says.

"If you don’t use a non-conformance system and write up notes and so on, when you get one of these letters from the commission put your hand in your pocket because the employees puts $62.50 on the table and, unless it is a really serious offence, you’re unlikely to walk out of the commission or a conciliation without putting your hand in your pocket."

Companies must meet a number of conditions before sacking an employee, such as ensuring there a valid reason for dismissal, the employee has been notified of the reason and given an opportunity to respond and whether the employee has received previous warnings for their conduct.

Businesses with fewer than 15 employees operate under the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, which prevents someone from making an unfair dismissal claim if they are sacked within the first 12 months of their employment. The timeframe is six months for people at businesses with more than 15 employees.

Businesses can fire an employee without notice if they believe they have committed serious misconduct. This includes theft, fraud or violence, or serious breaches of occupational health and safety law.

 

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