A small business is defined the purposes of unfair dismissal law as a business with less than 15 employees. This is calculated with a simple head count, not equivalent full time.
There is a code which sets out the process for small businesses. If you fit this definition the Small Business Fair Dismissal Codes sets the rules for you to follow when dealing with the termination of employees. It does not make you immune from being pursued for unfair dismissal.
The Code also makes the obligations for small business owners clear when dealing with such employees. The Code was put together in response to a significant lack of small businesses understanding of their obligations for due process when terminating employees.
In addition to the Code the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code Checklist has been developed to make it easier for small businesses to ensure that they are compliant with the Code when dealing with terminations.
In order for an employee of a small business to be eligible for unfair dismissal, the employee must be with the employer for a period of 12 months. Once they have been with you for a period of 12 months you need to ensure that you have followed the Code and Checklist as issues arise.
Many times small business employers have a genuine or valid reason for terminating their employees. It is essential that when a small business is in that situation they follow the correct process and procedure to ensure that any dealings with their employee regarding termination are procedurally fair and not open to dispute. It is the procedural unfairness that appears to be the most significant issue for small businesses in dealing with these issues.
Prior to terminating any employees it is always advisable to seek legal advice to ensure that you have complied with all of your obligations and to give you the best protection possible against claims through the Fair Work Commission.
For advice on this or any other small business matters, call Riley Driscoll on 03 5445 1000.