The Fair Work Commission have been seeking additional resources due to the increase in unfair dismissal claims reporting a 60% higher number than the same time last year.
Of course, with a higher number of terminations (unemployment in Australia was 6.2% in April) there will be an increase in unfair dismissal matters but is this the only reason for the increase?
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Whilst some proceedings are brought by employees who without other job prospects to consider, look to seek cash by bringing proceedings against their former employer, there have been some employers who may have believed that using COVID-19 to cover their approach of removing ‘deadwood’ without following necessary process will deem them untouchable.
When there is crisis, people can believe that the standard rules ‘surely don’t apply’ however the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman have been adapting to the COVID-19 conditions by introducing various amendments and variations to assist employers to manage their employees more effectively. This, in addition to the existing modern award provisions around consultation and flexibility continue to apply.
The false sense of security felt by some employers that the Fair Work Commission will be far too busy to worry about them, is being evidenced by the response to the spike by the commission to increase their resources to enable the case load to be heard.
Whilst it has been a tough time for everyone, the Fair Work Commission have and will continue to take a dim view of an employer who has attempted to use the pandemic as a cover to act unscrupulously with their employees. Ignorance is not an excuse either.
Procedural fairness never went out the window and the need to consult and provide due process with all terminations has continued to apply.
Should you be looking to reduce your staff numbers or considering termination contact our advisors at [email protected] or 1300 720 004.
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