HR+

Case Study No. 1 - Unfair Dismissal

Background

A client who owns a health services practice had a new graduate employee start with them five months beforehand. This employee was offered a contract which had a probationary period of 6 months due to the nature of the specialist work that this practice provides. The practice has 18 employees - 13 permanent and regular casual employees (including the new graduate) as well as an additional 5 casuals who are not engaged on a regular and systematic basis.

Problem

The new employee had been unable to perform in an important aspect of the job - being that of correctly following appropriate sterilisation procedures of particular equipment which she had been trained to do. The employee had been counseled on two occasions, but not in writing, before the end of the 6 month probationary period. The problem occurred again and the employer wanted to terminate her. They really needed advice on the legalities of termination, specifically for dismissal. Their research led them to Wentworth Advantage.

The Solution

On advice from Wentworth Advantage, the employer terminated her and gave her one weeks pay in lieu of notice plus the pro-rata annual leave she was entitled to. During this whole process, on further advice from Wentworth Advantage, he had read, filled in and signed the Fair Work Australia (FWA) “Small Business Dismissal Code” checklist.

The employee then makes a claim for unfair dismissal with FWA alleging the dismissal to be harsh, unfair and unreasonable. FWA arranges for a conciliation conference to occur by telephone with the former employee, the employer and a FWA Commissioner. Wentworth Advantage advises and coaches the owner of the health services practice.

The Outcome

The FWA Commissioner strongly suggested to the former employee that because she had still been in the qualifying period (ie less than 12 months service) when she was terminated and there were less than 15 permanent and regular casual employees - as well as the fact that the employer had filled in the “Small Business Dismissal Code” checklist, then a case for unfair dismissal would be unlikely to succeed if it were to go to trial. The matter was resolved and the client had no further exposure to unfair dismissal in this case.

Case Study No 2 – Development of an Enterprise Agreement (EA)

Background

A well known insurance and finance business had a complex non-union enterprise agreement in place which was about to expire. The business was restructuring and thus a particular department was no longer required and positions in that department were to be made redundant.

The Problem

The previous EA’s elected employee representative had been around for many years and was in the department that was no longer being kept on. The employees had felt comfortable with the employee representative in the negotiations with management and he had gained management’s trust as well. Thus, many employees were now concerned as to who would be their representative, especially those staff members who were union members. Further, as the employer didn’t have any in-house specialist IR expertise in developing an EA, they were concerned about their ability to manage this technically complex process. They really needed some high-level IR advice and support. Their research led them to Wentworth Advantage.

The Solution

The employees had appointed a new employee bargaining representative, and the union was a bargaining representative under the new Act by default. On behalf of the employer, advice to management was being provided by Wentworth Advantage.

The Outcome

With agreement from management and the union, the former employee representative was kept on in the negotiations and a new enterprise agreement was written up and developed by Wentworth Advantage. It was subsequently voted on and accepted by all parties.

Case Study No. 3 - Industrial relations consulting work and advice on variations to Modern Awards

Background

Wentworth Advantage through its HR+ servce offers HR/IR Helpdesk facilities to many professional and industry associations and their members. In particular, many associations in the primary health care arena use the Wentworth Advantage service.

The Problem

In many cases, the new Modern awards have bundled many health disciplines together resulting in inadequate award conditions. These conditions need to be tailored to allow the flexible operation of specific primary health care disciplines. This had been particularly true in relation to “shiftwork” penalties in private practices. They really needed some high-level IR advice and support. Their research led them to Wentworth Advantage.

The Solution

Wentworth Advantage has worked with numerous primary health associations in supporting their applications to vary a prominent modern award in the health industry. Evidence was collected from industry members and presented to Fair Work Australia along with suggested amendments to the new award.

The Outcome

Certain private health practices can now have their staff work within their span of ordinary hours without having to pay shift penalties. This has resulted in certain treatment costs to be kept down for the public.


Key benefits of HR+
  • Tailored solutions.
  • People management.
  • Employment legal compliance.
  • Business management.
  • Strategy.
  • Governance.
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