Unfair dismissal: Know what your rights are at work

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Have you been accused of serious misconduct at work? Many workers find themselves sacked for serious misconduct, but don’t know what it means, or what their rights are.

Employers often accuse workers of serious misconduct for breaching minor company policy. In certain instances, sacked workers are eligible to file unfair dismissal claims.

Serious misconduct rights

According to the Fair Work Act, serious misconduct is conduct that is wilful or deliberate and inconsistent with the continuation of the employment contract. It is also conduct that causes serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of a person.

Finally, it also includes conduct that causes serious and imminent risk to the reputation, viability or profitability of the employer’s business:
intoxication at work
refusal to carry out a lawful and reasonable direction.

Dismissal can still be unfair

If an employer dismisses a worker without notice for serious misconduct, the Fair Work Commission might still find the dismissal unfair. Although the employer might have a valid reason for dismissal, that might be considered disproportionate to the conduct.

Employers must have strong evidence if they intend to dismiss a worker for serious misconduct.

One person’s word against another may not meet the test of strong evidence.

Breach of company policy

Many employers believe that a breach of company policy constitutes serious misconduct, however, this is not always the case. However, a substantial and wilful breach of a policy will usually constitute a valid reason for dismissal. But, in some cases, the Commission will find the dismissal harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

Out of work hours conduct

The Commission says an employer can only involve themselves in a worker’s private activities in exceptional circumstances. The out-of-hours conduct of an employee must have a relevant connection to the employment relationship. Sending messages or photos to work colleagues out of hours, or posting work-related comments on social media, constitutes such conduct.

Industrial Relations Claims can assist workers either unfairly dismissed or accused of serious misconduct. Workers have just 21-days from the date of dismissal to file a claim, so don’t delay!

If you are victim of unfair dismissal, we can help. Visit irclaims.com.au or please call Industrial Relations Claims on 1300 853 837.

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