Length of service and seniority were two important factors in a recent NSW Supreme Court decision, which compelled an employer to part with $900,000.
Global logistics company Expeditors International terminated Susanna Ma's employment and offered just five weeks notice, valued at around $50,000, after she objected to variations to the terms of her employment, including a 50 per cent reduction of her substantial monthly bonus.
Upon her dismissal, Ma – a regional financial controller who had worked for the company for over 24 years – demanded 12 months notice and requested that her long service leave payout be calculated not on her base salary of $70,000 per annum, but on her total salary (including incentives and bonuses) of $750,000 annually.
In Susanna Ma v Expeditors International Pty Ltd  NSWSC 859 (30 June 2014), the New South Wales Supreme Court found that the reasonable notice period to terminate the employment of a long-serving senior employee was 10 months.
The Supreme Court also agreed that her long service leave should be calculated on the higher figure.
She was therefore awarded the payment of a pro rata bonus (for four days) worth $8,138; plus the balance payable for long service leave in the amount of $265,373; and over $625,000 to cover 10 months’ notice.
In another recent decision, District Council of Barunga West v Hand  SASCFC 90 (6 August 2014), an executive employee succeeded in establishing a claim for 12 months' reasonable notice.
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