Dismissals are hard to handle at the best of times. When you are forced to dismiss staff during a pandemic, the difficulty factor just ratchets up.
The 2020 workplace has been defined by COVID-19. As a result, some of the signposts seem to have changed. Emotions are running high. People are anxious and reactive. Juggling home commitments and work – often remotely – is putting extra stress on family life.
Remote working can also make it harder for employers to support, monitor employees and ensure your team is productive and motivated.
The need to follow the process
In April this year, the Fair Work Commission experienced an unprecedented surge in unfair dismissal cases, with claims hiking up by 65%. This was directly related to a spike in unemployment figures, due to redundancy and performance management issues.
And unemployment is continuing to rise. According to the ABS, the unemployment rate hit 7.5% in August. A total of 227,700 Australians lost their jobs in May as COVID-19 took its toll on the economy.
The message for employers is clear. These are volatile times in the workplace. It’s therefore critical to follow a documented system through the entire dismissals process. The more unfamiliar the territory, the more important it is to stick to the letter of the law.
Getting the right directions
If you’re going it alone, consult the right manual. If your organisation has less than 15 full-time employees, check the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Small Business Fair Dismissal Code to ensure you get it right.
For larger companies, employees have to follow specific guidelines to lodge an unfair dismissal case. They must apply to the Commission within 21 days of the dismissal and must have been employed for at least six months (12 months for small business).
Consult HR experts for assistance
If you’re a small or medium sized business, you may have been managing your own HR before the pandemic struck. Now it’s worth considering the value of outsourced HR consulting – getting expert advice to ensure you meet your increasingly complex legal obligations.
A specialist HR consultant like HROnCall can quickly point you in the right direction, helping you avoid stressful and costly conflict.
A messy and unpleasant unfair dismissals case has the potential to send shock waves through your business for months, even years to come.
Yet there are other reasons to take control of your dismissal process.
- Gain a reputation for good people management.
- Reinforce the quality of your brand.
- Show your team you are a fair, considerate employer.
- Be rewarded with greater productivity and loyalty.
Ask us how we can help you navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Contact us today!