The ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie has recently been fired, only 2 years into her 5-year term. In her initial statement on Monday 24 September she stated that she would consider her legal options.
But what are the legal options when your employment has been terminated?
In the case of Ms Guthrie, her contract was an executive contract, which are typically difficult to challenge, and a termination payment is unlikely. The rules are different for regular contracts.
The Fair Work Act 2009 protects employees from having their employment terminated unfairly. It covers employees earning up to $123,300, but not all casual employees and not all employees in traineeships. It also does not apply to employees on specified term contracts that were not renewed, or employees dismissed in their first 6 months of employment.
Under the unfair dismissal laws in the Act, an employer must have a valid reason to dismiss an employee, such as redundancy. Other valid reasons may include serious misconduct such as theft, or a pattern of misconduct and poor performance. If the reason relates to the employee’s conduct, the employer must have warned the employee and given them a chance to improve, with the knowledge that their employment was in danger. If the dismissal is due to serious misconduct the employee is not entitled to notice of termination, however, in all other situations, employees are entitled to the appropriate notice period, pay in lieu of notice or redundancy pay.
When a dismissal is found to be unfair, the employee may be reinstated to their previous position and paid for the time they were forced to miss. Another option is payment of compensation up to a maximum of six months’ pay.
Section 772 of the Fair Work Act also incorporates the state and federal discrimination laws. A dismissal will be unlawful if the reasons behind it include ethnicity, age, disability, gender, sexual preference, pregnancy, family responsibilities, carer status, temporary absence due to illness or injury, political opinion, union membership or making a complaint about the conditions of employment.
If you have been unfairly dismissed, or have any queries relating to issues featured in this article, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8917 8700 or fill out the enquiry box and we will get back to you ASAP.