Discovering People

Essential legislation for employers

I recently attended a seminar presented by Jane Seymour, a senior associate from Blake Dawson Waldron Lawyers, on the subject of essential legislation for employers. It highlighted the need for employers to be aware of current legislation.

Part Two: Unfair Dismissal

A termination of employment can be fraught with legal landmines in today's equal opportunity workplace. When you, as an employer, choose to dismiss one of your employees you should be aware of current legislation surrounding unfair dismissal. A dismissal today must have a valid reason - it must be sufficiently serious and the procedures followed must be reasonable, given the situation. 

Included below are some general areas that may be of interest to you.

Of the more serious types of dismissal is one that is based on misconduct by an employee. This type of misconduct can result in a summary (instant) dismissal. Examples of misconduct include fighting on the job, stealing, drinking or sleeping on the job. It is important that the behaviour has not previously been condoned or been waived by the employer with this staff member or others. It is still important to maintain procedural fairness by putting the allegation to the employee and giving the employee the chance to answer the allegations in the presence of a witness.

For other issues including absenteeism, poor performance and interpersonal relationships,
prior warnings and counselling should be given before a dismissal. It is a common belief that three written warnings should be produced before dismissing a staff member. This is a misconception - it is not stated in legislation. Legislation states that the number of warnings and counsellings has to be reasonable given the circumstances. Hence, a certain situation may require more than three written warnings to be deemed reasonable.

Employers may be excluded from unfair dismissal laws if the employee is under a probationary period that is determined in advance and is less than three months, or reasonable in the circumstances. Other exclusions include those engaged on a casual basis for a short period of less than six months and not engaged on a regular systematic basis and have no expectations of continuing employment. 

Denise Leanfore B.Psych. (Hons) – Recruitment Consultant

Latest Unemployment Figures

6202.0 Labour Force, Australia, Preliminary
EMBARGO: 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/04/2001




  • decreased by 0.1 percentage point to 6.8%. The male rate decreased by 0.1 percentage point to 7.1% and the female rate remained at 6.5%.
  • NSW 5.7% (6.2% last month); 
  • Vic 6.7% (6.3%); 
  • Qld 8.9% (8.8%); 
  • SA 7.2% (7.3%); 
  • WA 7.2% (6.8%); 
  • Tas 8.6% (9.0%).

source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

If you require any assistance filling your vacant positions, please feel free to contact our office on 9570 2411.             

If you have any questions, human resources issues to discuss or would like to give any feedback in regards to this newsletter, please don't hesitate to email me -

Michelle Novotny

Managing Director

Discovering People