To Dismiss Or Not To Dismiss, But At Least Do It Fairly

To Dismiss Or Not To Dismiss, But At Least Do It Fairly


Almost every employer has been tempted to use the Trump statement “You’re Fired”, but in Australia it’s not that easy. If you’re thinking of sacking an employee, there are several points to keep in mind before heading down that road.

Don’t be too quick to react

If the problem with your employee is they are not performing up to your standards, you first need to ask yourself if you have given them the opportunity to improve.

Employers need to give performance targets that are not only clear but also achievable. If these targets aren’t being met, we recommend you discuss with your employee any problems that may be preventing them from achieving. These targets need to be confirmed in writing to ensure you are both on the same page.

Personality is not a legal reason

Just because you don’t get along, or they don’t “fit” well in the team this is not enough reason for termination. Every work place has its office politics, and you need to find alternative ways to help your team get along together.

Provide fair warning with the opportunity to respond

Regardless of the situation, you need to provide the under-performing employee an opportunity to respond to any allegation of misconduct or lack of performance. The most effective method is to outline the circumstances in writing and follow up with a formal meeting. Should you still decide dismissal is required, you have at least provided the employee the opportunity to explain, and advise them of the potential consequences.

Control your feelings

No one likes to be in the situation of giving warnings or presenting an employee with a dismissal notice, and you do need to be sensitive to the timing, situation and people involved. Telling someone they are fired on the workshop floor in front of their colleagues will only cause unrest with the rest of the employees, make you look like the ogre and cause unnecessary distress to the employee.

Does the Punishment fit the crime?

There are very few situations, such as theft, fraud, and violence or a serious breach or workplace health and safety, where immediate dismissal can be justified, and even in such case, you must be sure to follow advice from diverse professional angles.

Invite an employee Representative

If you have reached the stage where you need to discuss the possibility of dismissal with an employee, then it is a procedural fairness requirement under the Fair Work Act to allow a support person (of the employee’s choosing) to observe the discussions – this does not mean they can participate or take over.

The most important things to remember when preparing to dismiss an employee are to allow them to leave with dignity, keep it business-like, and be sure to look after the remaining employees. Firing one member of the team can wreak emotional havoc on the rest of the team, so think about the way in which you communicate the changes to them.

Is there a good way to sack someone? Have you had to do it? How was it handled? How hard was it? And if you have been sacked yourself, how was that handled? What advice would you give?


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