A recent case before Fair Work Australia has emphasied the importance of employers having a fair and published process in regards to handling disciplinary problems with staff. The case (Michelle de Leon v Spice Temple Pty Ltd  FWA 3497, revolved around the “abrupt and quite unprofessional” manner with which an employee had dealt with a high profile customer. As a result of a complaint from the customer, the employee was dismissed from her position. The Deputy President of FWA was very critical of the employer because:
- the decision to dismiss the employee was made prior to meeting with her to discuss the issue. In the words of the Deputy President, she was effectively “ambushed” by the allegation and was given no opportunity to respond to the allegation.
- she was not given the opportunity to have a support person present at the meeting (the employer did suggest that the staff members immediate supervisor was present to support her but this was not accepted).
- she was not given any written warning about her conduct nor was she given a letter of dismissal stating the reasons for the dismissal.
In the end the Deputy President described the whole process as “a complete sham” and “totally unacceptable and a denial of procedural fairness”. The Deputy President also described the situation for which she had been dismissed for as not “coming within a bull’s roar” of the commonly accepted definition of misconduct. Finally the dismissal was described as “harsh, unjust and unreasonable” and “if there was a scale of unfairness, this dismissal would be in the top quartilie”.
The employer was then ordered to pay the employee 12 months pay as full compensation for loss of wages.
This case highlights the importance of ensuring you have a fair and equitable process in place to handle disciplinary issues.
At People Smartz, we regularly receive calls from members of our community who do not have these processes in place. Generally, the call is received when a problem has arisen and there is some concern regarding the situation. In nearly all cases, the presence of a established and published process for dealing with such situations is needed but is currently not in place.
At People Smartz, we can assist your business to have the appropriate process in place, easy to use and tailored for your business.