Another recent decision from Fair Work Commission has reinforced the importance of taking all potentially mitigating factors into account when deciding whether or not terminate and employee’s service – not just whether the employee had breached a policy.
The Fair Work Commission stated a company had valid reason for dismissing the workers for breaching the safety rules, part of a “workplace safety policy compliance with which was considered fundamental” and required by mine operation laws.
However, the guidelines provided for a range of responses, including warnings, probation or suspension, in circumstances “including where the risk involved was deemed to be high or extreme” – not just termination
In essence, the guidelines did not support the company’s argument that it had “no alternative” other than to dismiss the workers.
Also it could be construed the Commission said, the conduct of the individuals had been negligent rather than intentional and was just a mistake.
So all in, it meant that the company acted harshly in opting to dismiss the employees, rather than impose other disciplinary options available under existing guidelines
Once again a finding like this reinforces the principals we here at HR Central talk about so frequently and adopt. That is, each and every potential decision to terminate must be considered against all possible mitigating factors before coming to any decision. Just the pure breach of a policy, no matter how serious, is not sufficient to just say terminate the services of the individual involved. We always recommend to seek our assistance in reviewing the facts before you as an Employer come to any conclusion about what action to take.