As an employer, there’s every chance that you will have an unfair dismissal claim brought against you at some point. Even if you follow the law to the letter, you will always have disgruntled ex-employees who feel like they’ve been unfairly treated and that they deserve some sort of compensation.
Fortunately, it’s quite easy to defend against unfair dismissal claims if you’ve followed the correct procedures. If you’re not completely familiar with the process, we’d always recommend hiring a lawyer to keep you out of trouble. However, the following four steps should provide a solid base to help you understand what’s involved with defending an unfair dismissal claim.
Step 1: Check Whether the Employee Was Eligible to Make a Claim
One thing that a lot of employers don’t realise is that not every ex-employee is actually eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim. To be eligible, an employee must have been:
- Employed for at least six months, or 12 months for businesses with less than 15 employees. Unpaid leave and unauthorised absence don’t usually count towards these periods.
- Earning less than the high-income threshold or covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement. In most cases, employees earning more than $148,500 per year (as of July 2019) will be ineligible to make a claim.
As you can see, this immediately discounts a lot of people.
Step 2: Keep Good Records
As you know, it’s important to follow the correct procedures when terminating an employment contract to ensure you’re not exposed to unfair dismissal claims. It’s also important to document the process so that you can use it for evidence if a claim does occur.
Make sure you clearly document exactly when notice was given, what indiscretions or other reasons led to contract termination and what opportunities the employee was given to improve their performance or resolve any issues.
Step 3: Know the Process
When it comes to defending a claim, it’s extremely important to make sure that you understand the entire process so that you’re not caught in a difficult position. There are online courses that you can take to familiarise yourself with everything you need to know.
In saying that, it’s probably not really worth taking such a course unless you’re regularly defending yourself against such claims.
Step 4: Employ a Lawyer
If an unfair dismissal case goes against you, you could be liable for a financial penalty that could reach thousands of dollars. As you can imagine, it’s worth spending a little money on a legal professional to help you defend a case, especially if you’re not confident in your ability to win on your own. Look for an employment lawyer with experience dealing with unfair dismissals.
If not dealt with right, unfair dismissal claims can be extremely expensive and can negatively impact your business’s reputation. Because of this, it’s important to understand the unfair dismissal’s process so you can successfully defend against such claims.