Employers – act quickly on an unfair dismissal claim

Employers – act quickly on an unfair dismissal claim

Often the first hint that something is wrong is when you are served with an Unfair Dismissal Application, and it is important to act quickly.

You may feel blindsided when you receive the documents and confused as why you are in this position. A former employee who believes that they have been unfairly treated may be angry and too upset to contact their employer to discuss the issues with them.

There are strict deadlines to be followed in the Fair Wok Commission and while there are always exceptions, they are reasonably rare. A former employee needs to file an Application with the Fair Work Commission within twenty-one days of termination.

What to do next?

Once served with an Unfair Dismissal Application you have seven days to file and serve a Response. This includes any evidence you have to support your objection to the Application. It is a good idea to get advice on your former employee’s Application to make sure that they are eligible to file an Application as the rules are different for large and small businesses.

The Fair Work Commission will arrange for a Conciliation Conference to be held between you, your former employee and a Conciliator. This is an informal teleconference which gives both parties the opportunity to discuss their position in more detail than the Court documents provide. Often with the assistance of the Conciliator the matter will be finalised at this point.

Attending a Conciliation Conference by telephone is very convenient but you need to be prepared with all of your documentation. You also need to know what you are willing to accept and on what points you are willing to negotiate. The conference will be much more successful if both parties stay calm, particularly when it becomes so hard to hear people talking over each other on the telephone!

You can have legal representation at a Conciliation Conference and assistance in preparing your response. A solicitor can also ensure that any agreement reached at the Conciliation Conference is formalised into a binding deed, providing you with the peace of mind that the matter is over.

How do I protect my business?

There are a number of reasons why an employee is no longer the right fit for your business, or they may resign themselves. If you intend to terminate someone’s employment you need to ensure that the reason for the termination cannot be perceived as harsh, unjust or unreasonable. It is useful to document your termination meeting with an employee so you have a record should any further action be taken.

If you have any concerns as to how to terminate an employee and to reduce your risk of an unfair dismissal claim, or you have received an Unfair Dismissal Application – be proactive. Get advice on what your rights and responsibilities are and minimise the impact it has on your business.

Call Andrew Dunshea today on 02 6331 7666 if you need advice relating to an unfair dismissal matter.

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