Unfair dismissal a learning opportunity?

Written by: Cameron Blewett | May 28, 2017

Unfair dismissal. Two words that are enough to make a business owner break out into a cold sweat. Or, so people are telling us.

What would you say if I told you businesses shouldn’t be scared of unfair dismissal? And that by adopting a simple process it won’t be something to dread? In fact, you should embrace it, and grow from the experience.

Why is an application made?
Let me tell you, it isn’t to score a quick buck. From my experience, I have found former employees lodge unfair dismissal applications because they believe their employment has been unfairly terminated. They want to use the process to air a grievance about that termination, which could be about a manager, or supervisor, or even about the way that they themselves were treated. Understand this and unfair dismissal applications are no longer scary.

Use your time wisely
How would you respond to an unfair dismissal application? Would you deliver some “home truths,” and “set the record straight”? Or would you take the time to find a way to resolve the matter? My guess is the first option.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Submit the employer’s response, then use the time to resolve the matter yourself. Find a neutral meeting spot, and sit down with the former employee to understand what the real issue is. (This, of course, doesn’t apply if the person was fired for gross misconduct, such as violence, fraud or theft.)

Give them their voice
Giving the former employee the chance to vent to someone who will listen may be all that is needed to settle. Ask them what they really want, and what it will take to resolve the matter. Take this as an opportunity to find out if there is anything wrong with your processes. If the employee has been fairly terminated, then explain it to them why.

Remember, we all want to be heard, and for what we say to be understood. This is why the “feel, felt, found” is a useful technique in sales.

What should be on the table?
Now we come to the painful part of unfair dismissal. Instead of thinking of a monetary settlement as “go-away money,” ask yourself this question: What will it take for this employee to become an advocate of the company?

Why would you want a former employee as an advocate I hear you ask. The answer is simple — social media and word of mouth are powerful channels.

If the termination has been fair, you may only require a confidentiality deed to wrap things up. This could be all the employee is after, to keep their resume ‘tidy’. If the termination was unfair, then you will have to cop it on the chin and work hard to reach an acceptable settlement.


“If the termination has been fair, you may only require a confidentiality deed to wrap things up.”

– Cameron Blewett


Learn from the experience
In life, we need to be growing and adapting to the challenges that life throws at us. And being in business is no different.

By no means am I wishing the experience of an unfair dismissal application on anyone, but I also don’t think it’s something businesses should be scared of. Use what you learn from listening and talking to the employee about their dismissal to improve things for your current employees. After all, if we aren’t evolving in business, we are stagnating.

If you do receive an unfair dismissal application, be proactive and seek a resolution yourself.

For more visit www.irsimplified.com.au.

Success North Queensland