People Matters, November 2020

AMIC is currently assisting an employer who has had a general protections dispute lodged against them.

A brief history

On the employees first day, the business put him through an induction which included reading business policies. Among these was the business’ smoking and dress code policies. After reading the policies the employee signed a document to state that he had read and understood the policies – a significant action.

Later, that same day and contrary to business policy, the employee was seen smoking. This led to a manager having to reiterate to him the non-smoking policy and giving him a direction to not smoke on the premises.

Moreover, the employee was also spoken to about his clothing which was described as soiled. This time the dress code was reiterated and the employee was asked to dress in a neat and tidy fashion as he was representing the business when making deliveries.

On the following day, his second day on the job, he again arrived in soiled clothing and continued to smoke on the premises.

The day after that, the employee rang to say that he would not be attending work that day but did not provide a reason. The manager who took the call explained that the role was five days a week and he needed to provide a reason for his absence. The employee swore at the manager and said that he was sick. The manager then agreed that he should not attend work while he was sick, and the phone call ended.

Within 15 minutes the employee rang back and let forth a tirade of swearing at the manager who replied that the employee’s behaviour and language was unacceptable and terminated him on the spot.

In less than a week the employee lodged a general protections dispute claiming he was terminated for exercising his right to have a day off sick.

The matter is currently before the Fair Work Commission and will be decided in favour of the employer. Given the events above it is very unlikely the commission would decide otherwise.

AMIC has been able to prepare for the Fair Work Conciliation with very little stress or research because the employer has done an amazing job by:

  • Putting all new employees through an induction,
  • Having those employees read company policies and sign off that they have,
  • Keeping concise file notes of their employees,
  • Dealing with an issue as it arises such as the smoking and dress code infringement.

In the case of this matter the employer’s records were not extensive but they were up to date, relevant and concise. They were a very good example of recordkeeping.

AMIC will keep you updated as the conciliation progresses.