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Employers in breach

With employees becoming increasingly aware of the various legal avenues they can take to make a claim against their employer, it is crucial that employers raise their awareness and understanding of these issues. One poorly made decision when managing performance or behaviour can land employers and their business in hot water along with some hefty penalties and fines.

Claims against employers for being in breach of the General Protection provisions under the Fair Work Act are becoming more and more common. A General Protections dispute can occur, if an employee reasonably believes that they have been dismissed, warned, disciplined, bullied or discriminated against because they possess a certain protected attribute or engage in a protected activity. For example:

  • An employer cannot discipline an employee because of their temporary absence from work due to illness or injury.
  • An employer cannot discriminate against an employee who is or is not a member of a union or industrial association.
  • An employer cannot dismiss an employee who is exercising a workplace right, such as making an inquiry or complaint in relation to their employment

Attributes such as gender, age, sexuality, pregnancy and race are also protected, with employees able to make claims under Anti-Discrimination legislation if they believe they have been discriminated against because of these protected attributes.

Additionally, employees are now able to make an application to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop workplace bullying under the new Fair Work Act Anti-Bullying Scheme. However, if an employer’s actions were considered reasonable management action then the application is less likely to succeed.

If you are an employer and wanting to know more about how to effectively manage underperformance in your business and minimise the legal risks phone us to arrange an appointment with myself or one of our HR experts.

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Adrian Rasmussen

About the author

Adrian has been with BMO for over 30 years. He commenced in 1988 as BMO’s first trainee, studying his Bachelor of Business Degree and CPA on the job. He has a strong local heritage, having grown up around Dalby. Adrian has an intimate understanding of business and primary production and his qualifications and experience are backed by his genuine care and concern for people along with a READ MORE

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