Of all the tasks delegated to business owners, terminating an employee is always one of the least pleasant. While no one likes firing an employee, it’s something nearly all employers, including petrol station owners, will need to do at some point. The act of firing somebody may seem straightforward, but there are several key factors to keep in mind when ending a worker’s term of employment.
By understanding rules surrounding notice, lawful/unlawful termination, and outstanding payments, you will be able to avoid conflicts and issues that may arise in the firing process. Maintaining an up to date knowledge of the terms and regulations surrounding termination ensures that both you and your employee remain protected and in accordance with Australian law.
Notice Periods & Final Pay
When firing an individual from your service station, you are required to give a period of notice. This notice period begins the day after you communicate intent to terminate employment, and ends on the employees last day of work. The minimum notice periods for dismissing an employee are as follows:
- 1 week minimum notice for employees with 1 or less years of service
- 2 weeks minimum notice for employees with 1-3 years of continuous service
- 3 weeks minimum notice for employees with 3-5 years of continuous service
- 4 weeks minimum notice for employees with more than 5 years continuous service
Employees over 45 years old who have worked at your petrol station for at least two years must receive an additional week of notice.
These notice periods do not apply to all employees, and do not require adherence for casual, fixed term, or seasonal employees, or for firings pertaining to serious misconduct.
Final pay for fired employees should be paid in full within 7 days of the end of the notice period, and should include any outstanding wages, accrued annual leave or entitlements, and the remaining balance of any time off that an employee may have earned but not yet taken.
Unjust or Unlawful Termination
There are circumstances in which firing an employee may be unfair, unjust, or even unlawful. Terminations of these natures can be brought to the attention of Australia’s Fair Work Commission, and legal action may be pursued by the employee. To avoid circumstances of unjust termination, petrol station owners should always take care to ensure any firing is done with valid cause, with proper notice, and that there is an opportunity for the employee in question to respond to the termination notice.
Unlawful termination is even more serious, and service station owners must be aware of what warrants an unlawful firing. Unlawful termination can be claimed when an employee is fired for any of the following reasons:
- A person’s race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or phyiscally disability, marital status, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, or family or carer’s responsibilities
- A temporary employee absence caused by illness or injury
- Status of union membership
- Absence due to maternity or parental leave
- Absence to engage in voluntary emergency management
- An employee plan to make a complaint or inquiry in relation to employment
If you are found to have fired an employee on the basis of any of the above points, you and your petrol station may likely be subject to fines or legal proceedings.
Proceeding With Employee Dismissal
It is true that the event of firing an employee is difficult for all parties, but as a business owner you should keep in mind that often it is more upsetting for the individual being dismissed than it is simply uncomfortable for you. Ensure that any employee dismissal is done legally, with respect and valid reason, and an abundance of consideration for your worker.
Letters of termination should be properly presented, and care should be given to ensure your employee understands the circumstances surrounding their dismissal, and has a chance to respond. Failure to meet any of the above requirements could not only result in legal penalties, but in lingering resentment and anger between all parties involved. Firing an employee is never fun, but done correctly it can be done smoothly, while maintaining a good degree and comfort and respect between both you and your worker.
If you need help with the termination of an employee, feel free to get in touch and we can guide you through the process for your particular situation.