Unfair dismissal application numbers soar during COVID-19 crisis
Unfair dismissal applications to the Fair Work Commission are sharply rising. The substantial increase of 60% against the same time last year should not be surprising to experienced practitioners. For those of us who have been through previous economic events which have affected employment security and led to substantial terminations of employment, we have seen this trend before.
These employees have nothing to lose by making an application and potentially something to gain, if only to gain an understanding of “why me”. Therefore, it also indicates that there is an opportunity for HR and IR practitioners to do more at the point of termination of employment to make sure that employees genuinely understand the reason for the termination of their employment and why them and perhaps not others. Taking additional time to explain the circumstances to employees at the time they are provided with the message or leaving open an opportunity for them to come back for clarification, may well minimise claim numbers. Experience shows that it is often a sense of injustice arising from a lack of understanding which drives at least some of these claims, and as practitioners we can influence this group.
Delivering these difficult messages to employees is hard and we sometimes think quick and direct is best for everyone. However, where practitioners can instead deliver the message with more compassion and patience, there will likely be benefits for everyone. In times of economic crisis, the vast majority of job losses have little or nothing to do with employee performance and a lot to do with the organisations capacity to pay wages.
If you require assistance with advice on stand-down, redundancy, termination of employment or having difficult conversations, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 3218 3919.