Termination of Employment – Falsifying Documents

Termination of Employment – Falsifying Documents

A company was justified in dismissing an employee for falsifying a safety document, despite the fact that he was instructed to do so by a company OHS advisor, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has found.

FWC accepted that the dismissed worker initially altered a required pre-duty safety document on the instructions of a safety advisor. However, they advised that they could not give greater weight to this as a mitigating factor because the worker acknowledged that he was not forced to change the document and had falsely altered it three times over two days.

The FWC said the worker’s falsification could not be described as “an ill-considered spur of the moment once-off act” as, despite having had the chance to reflect overnight, the worker again falsified the document twice “without any reluctance or expression of concern”.

FWA said while the involvement of the safety officer was “inexcusable”, it did not, in the circumstances, excuse the worker’s actions.

Comment/Lessons to learn: The notable information about this case is that the FWA looked at what might be mitigating factors before deciding if the penalty fitted the crime. Merely looking at the issue of the fact without asking why can leave you open to having a termination being overruled. This can then result in an employee reinstated with significant back payment of wages.

Michael O'Shaughnessy

Michael is a specialist in all things HR. With vast HR experience in the USA and Australia, Michael brings a wealth of knowledge and advice to HR Central. When he's not blogging for HR Central you can find him out for dinner in one of Melbourne's newest restaurants.

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