Handling an Unfair Dismissal claim can be a challenging and unpleasant experience for employers. Depending on your circumstances, there are some strategies you can implement to manage these situations effectively.
Seek advice before dismissal
Receiving professional advice before dismissing an employee can prevent many claims. This might involve slowing down the process, implementing a show cause procedure, or developing a performance management plan. Case law indicates that many instant dismissals result from hasty reactions or employers’ lack of knowledge about their obligations under the Fair Work Act or equivalent state legislation.
Upon receiving a claim, analyse its contents and arguments; this will guide you on the evidence you need to gather.
Consider past performance or behaviour, for example:
- Have there been any fraudulent expense claims against company policies?
- Does an examination of their emails reveal confidential information disclosed to third parties?
- Can witnesses attest to counter any argument they make about the unfairness of the dismissal?
Evaluate commercial aspects
Assess whether it’s more practical and economical to settle the claim. What is the employee asking for? Sometimes, a quick settlement might be more cost-effective than proceeding to a hearing.
Aim for resolution in conferences
When attending a conciliation conference, approach it with the intention to resolve the matter, regardless of what the employee’s allegations might be. This approach is usually the most practical and commercially sensible.
Insist on a Deed
If a settlement is reached, always have a Deed in place. This should include strict confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses. Also, consider the tax implications of any settlement and the payment terms.
A bar to future claims is crucial to prevent the employee from making further claims, such as underpayment of wages or discrimination.
At the end of the day, unfair dismissal claims often strike a deeply personal chord, making them particularly challenging to handle. As a business owner, maintaining objectivity can feel like an uphill battle, with feelings of frustration and confusion clouding the practical aspects of the situation.
We not only help you navigate the process of unfair dismissal claims, but also offer a neutral perspective that can help steer the course towards a successful outcome, minimising the financial impact, reducing emotional stress, and ensuring smooth continuity in your business operations.