20 Jul HR Policy Saves the Day
A HR policy saved the day for this employer!
Writing policies and preparing employment contracts can be time consuming for a business owner, but having these fundamentals in place will support you to manage workplace issues and most importantly, help you to defend employee claims such as unfair dismissal and adverse action claims. In the 2020/2021 financial year, almost 5,000 general protection claims for termination of employment were lodged with Fair Work and over 1,000 general protection claims about other workplace issues.
One such instance of the benefit of having HR policies in place and successfully defending an adverse action claim was the case of Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union v Bengalla Mining Company Pty Limited.
In this case, the union on behalf of an employee claimed that the employer, Bengalla, had taken adverse action against the employee when they issued him with a warning letter. The union claim the warning had been issued because of the employee’s union membership.
On three occasions the employee who was a union member and office holder, made applications for unpaid leave to attend union meetings. The employer had a leave policy which stated that unpaid leave was only available if an employee had first exhausted all accrued leave. On each occasion the employer refused to approve the unpaid leave request on the basis that he had not exhausted his accrued leave.
The employee, without approval for leave, attended a union management meeting. As a result, he was issued with a written warning stating that any further unauthorised absence from work could result in the termination of his employment.
The union then filed a claim on alleging that the warning letter had been given for a prohibited reason – the employee’s affiliation with the union, and that this constituted unlawful adverse action under the Fair Work Act.
The Federal Court found in favour of the employer that there was no evidence the policy had been applied in any discriminatory way because the employee was a union member and office holder. The judge found the employee knowingly failed to attend work when rostered to do so and took leave without adequate supporting documentation, in breach of the employer’s leave policy.
All employers are exposed to the risk of claims being made with potentially very costly outcomes. Policies and procedure provide a fair, predictable and consistent approach to managing the workplace and workplace issues whilst employment contracts ensure that the rights and obligations of each party are clearly understood.
If your business needs a helping hand to write HR Policies and Employment Contracts tailored to your business needs, reach out to us at Business 360. You can also request a copy of our “Contracts and Policies” Fact Sheet for information on how contracts work and what are the must have HR policies. Call us on 1300 287 36 or email email@example.com or if you would prefer a confidential discussion with one of our directors, click here to book a time to discuss your needs.
Need a helping hand with your HR Policies and Employment Contracts? Reach out to us at Business 360
- to tailor your HR Documents to your business needs email firstname.lastname@example.org
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- call us on 1300 287 360