Dismissing an Employee by Text is not on!

Posted on August 29, 2019

Delivering a DCM (Don’t Come Monday) message to an employee by text message is poor form and the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has confirmed that “basic human dignity” requires that a dismissal be conveyed personally.

In Thai v Email Ventilation Pty Ltd [2019] FWC4116, an employee who was terminated by text message was found to have been unfairly dismissed and the FWC determined that the termination being by text was a factor which contributed to that finding.

Notwithstanding that the employer was a small business without dedicated HR expertise, the FWC was still highly critical of the method of the termination, stating:

“…it must be bluntly said that no employer with any sense of common decency, would have effected a dismissal in the hopeless manner admitted to in this case; particularly given the applicant’s value to the business and his long period of service. It was disgraceful and grossly unfair. The respondent’s approach in denying the applicant proper and fair procedures cannot be put down to naivety or ignorance. It was deliberate and calculated. The size of the employer’s business and lack of industrial relations expertise simply does not ‘wash’ as any excuse for the lack of any fair procedure in this case”.

Ensuring that procedural fairness is followed is absolutely critical. Even if there is a valid reason for termination, a failure to follow an appropriate process - such as delivering a DCM by text - will lead to a finding that the termination is unfair.

Please contact the employment law team at Lynch Meyer Lawyers on 08 8223 7600 if you require assistance with any employment or industrial issues.

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