Resources: E-updates

Key Takeaways from our Webinar

E-updates
|

Managing Workplace Behaviour: "You Get What You Tolerate"

In our August webinar, our Managing Director and Principal, Athena Koelmeyer, discussed the challenges faced by modern employers when managing workplace behaviour. In that webinar, Athena examined a number of recent unfair dismissal decisions of the Fair Work Commission which provide some good guidance for employers.

In our August webinar, our Managing Director and Principal, Athena Koelmeyer, discussed the challenges faced by modern employers when managing workplace behaviour. In that webinar, Athena examined a number of recent unfair dismissal decisions of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) which provide some good guidance for employers.


For those who missed the webinar, below are three key takeaways:


1. Understand the difference between behaviour, performance and misconduct


It is crucial that managers and HR understand the differences between behaviour, performance and misconduct, and that they correctly identify the problem before taking any further action.


Poor behaviour can include a variety of things such as an employee being uncooperative or unprofessional, acting in a way that is passive aggressive or creates low-level tension in the workplace, or displaying poor email or online etiquette with customers or colleagues.


Poor performance is generally defined as a failure to achieve certain standards or output, usually measured against pre-existing goals or responsibilities that are relevant to an employee’s position, such as Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) or an employee’s Position Description.


Misconduct most often concerns an act (or acts) committed by an employee that is unacceptable and calls for some corrective disciplinary action.


In Zirilli v StarTrack Express Pty Limited [2019] FWC 3557, an employer was found to have unfairly dismissed an employee because it incorrectly identified his poor performance as a matter of misconduct. The FWC found that the employee was denied an opportunity to improve his poor performance prior to his dismissal, and awarded the employee $17,504.79 in compensation.

2. Realise the importance of developing and implementing a Code of Conduct


Developing a Code of Conduct that sets out the employer’s values and culture will go far in minimising the risk of employee misbehaviour and enabling employers to take action where behaviour does not meet the standards required.


Employers should consider the standards of behaviour that they will expect from employees and set this out in a clear and unambiguous document, along with the possible consequences of non-compliance. A strong Code of Conduct, along with a leadership team that abides by and actively demonstrates its standards, will ensure that every individual employee knows what is expected of them, regardless of their position within the organisation.


A Code of Conduct should also serve to remind employees that they are representatives of the employer and their behaviour will be seen as a reflection of the employer, including when it comes to activity on social media.

 

3. Act swiftly and fairly when poor behaviour arises


Poor behaviour can have toxic consequences for an organisation if it is not dealt with in a prompt and fair manner. It can lead to more serious issues like bullying and workplace gossip, creating risks to the health and safety of other employees and the workplace generally.


In Meredith v Chad Group Australia Pty Ltd [2020] FWC 1467, the FWC found that the employer had tolerated the dismissed employee’s unacceptable behaviour for so long that it had resulted in a young employee fearing for their safety and ultimately resigning from their job. It had also exposed other employees to unnecessary and unacceptable abuse. The employer only dismissed the employee when he directed his unacceptable behaviour towards a director, and on that occasion, the dismissal was so devoid of procedural fairness that it made the dismissal unfair.


When an employer becomes aware of an employee behaving poorly, it should take appropriate steps to address and rectify the poor behaviour and remind all employees of the importance of upholding the employer’s standards of behaviour.


In many instances, a simple reminder to employees as a group will be effective. However, where an employee refuses to adjust their behaviour in the workplace, managers and HR staff should not hesitate to address these issues directly with the employee, including in the form of disciplinary action if necessary.

Similar articles

Commission finds mask mandate to be a lawful and reasonable direction

Mask up

Employees have a duty to comply with lawful and reasonable directions from their employer. In the current COVID-19 context, a key concern for employers is whether it is lawful and reasonable to issue directions related to safety matters arising from the pandemic.

Read more...

Lack of consultation rendered mandatory vaccination requirement unreasonable

Talk before you walk

Consultation with employees always plays an important part when introducing changes in the workplace. Under work health and safety legislation, employers have a duty to consult with their workers as far as reasonably practicable in relation to health and safety matters.

Read more...

FWC finds that employee’s employment ended at end of fixed term and was not dismissed

Time goes by so slowly

Access to the unfair dismissal jurisdiction under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) is on the basis that the employee is “dismissed” from the employment. A jurisdictional objectional can be raised if the employee has not been actually dismissed by the employer.

Read more...

Modern Slavery Act set to commence in NSW from 1 January 2022

News Alert

In June 2018, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (NSW) was passed by NSW Parliament however, it was awaiting proclamation and as such had not yet commenced.

Read more...

Have you got a reopening plan in place?

People get ready

For many businesses and residents in NSW and Victoria, the double vaccination rates are being closely followed in anticipation for what is being referred to as “Freedom Day”.

Read more...

Annualised salary arrangements – one year on

Special Edition E-update

Given the rapidly changing employment landscape last year, it was easy for employers to forget that in March 2020, some modern awards were varied to include provisions relating to annualised wage arrangements.

Read more...

Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Signup to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to you inbox.