Worker fired after confronting employer about reduced hours

Fair Work examines if there was outright termination

Worker fired after confronting employer about reduced hours

A worker recently filed a claim before the Fair Work Commission (FWC), alleging that he was unfairly dismissed after he confronted his employer about his reduced hours. He said the latter fired him after his inquiry which was done without warning.

The worker, Matthew Smith, lodged a claim before the FWC, arguing that his employer violated the 'general protections' outlined in the Fair Work Act.

Smith said that he was informed of his termination on September 13, 2023, approximately forty minutes after expressing dissatisfaction with the employer's decision to “cut his hours” without any prior discussion.

He alleged that his dismissal was a retaliatory action, constituting unlawful adverse action. In response, the employer rejected the dismissal claim, asserting that Smith, classified as a part-time employee, only had the “extra work hours” (beyond part-time hours) reduced.

The manager’s termination email

According to records, the worker presented an email he received from his manager on 13 September 2023, being the day that he said he was notified of his dismissal.

The email stated:

“Matthew Smith,

Unfortunately, this email is to notify you that your current employment is no longer required. This is due to hours no longer being available.

One weeks (sic) notice will be given as of Thursday 14th September 2023 and ceasing on Saturday 16th September 2023.

Regards,

[Manager].”

HRD previously reported about the case of a worker who claimed unfair dismissal after being fired in the middle of a meeting. She said her employment was terminated following an employment review during her probation period.

She was required to attend a meeting with her manager and the HR manager to discuss concerns regarding her performance. After adjourning the meeting, the employer returned, informing the worker that her employment was terminated.

In another case, a worker claimed that she was forced to resign when she received a letter to conduct a meeting about the allegations against her.

Was there dismissal?

The FWC examined whether the worker’s dismissal was outright and without warning. “Considering Smith's material and the email notification he received on September 13, 2023, [there is] no basis to question the clear and unambiguous communication of dismissal initiated by the employer,” it said.

The Commission then addressed the dispute through a conference. The FWC commended the parties as they were able to resolve their differences during the determinative conference. The parties consequently entered into a binding settlement agreement, which was formalized in a signed document.

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