COVID-19 causing a record spike of unfair dismissal claims

by | Jun 4, 2020 | Blog

The Fair Work Commission has been inundated with an unprecedented number of unfair dismissals claims due to COVID-19 related sackings, redundancies, stand-downs and uncertainty around new rules. Fair Work Commission’s general manager, Bernadette O’Neill recently said the number of claims had jumped by more than 70 per cent.

COVID-19 causing a record spike of unfair dismissal claims

Employers be aware of ‘Upstream’ bullying

Whilst most Employees are working in unison with their Employers to make the best out of a bad situation, it is not the case at all workplaces. Upstream bullying is on the rise, causing additional stress for managers and organisations already under pressure, having to deal with the financial and operational fall-out, whilst trying to keep up with almost daily changes to the Fair Work Act and Modern Awards.

What is Upstream Bullying?

Unlike traditional bullying where aggressive behaviour might be displayed, we have found that bullying by staff is often conducted in secretive, sabotaging ways to undermine the manager’s authority. This could include blaming the manager for unfinished or incorrect work; withholding information; not turning up to meetings; refusing work duties, accusing the manager of bullying and victimisation when the manager is attempting to performance manage the individual and calling in sick in or claiming stress leave in retaliation of any sort of disciplinary action.

Working from home workers transition back

The transition back to the workplace for temporary home-workers has last proven to be another hot spot involving workplace disputes. Some workers are scared or concerned about being exposed to the risk of infection working along with other employees or serving customers, insisting that they should continue to work from home and/or refusing to do certain duties.  Such demands may or may not be genuine and management should carefully consider the merits of each case. As part of any decisions, management must also take the rest of the team into consideration. Ask yourself: Can the workload be distributed equally amongst the team in these circumstances? Am I giving in to a person’s unreasonable demand to the detriment of other team members?  Can I insist that workers return to their original workplace, without breaching workplace or safety laws?

Too difficult?

COVID-19 causing a record spike of unfair dismissal claims

All the above have, unfortunately, become an everyday reality for many businesses and managers who already were struggling with Australia’s complex Industrial Relations system. As there are no guarantees that things will get easier any time soon, it may be a good time to get help from a qualified professional before making a hasty decision that could cost you dearly.

Unsure how to go about dealing with difficult staff?  Thinking about redundancy or standing down staff?  

Need expert HR or WHS advice?

Give us a call on 07 40503888 or send us a quick email here to see how we can help.

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