Once again, an employee has been awarded the maximum payout available through the Fair Work Commission, after being terminated by text message.
In the unfair dismissal case of Gail Ayton v You Come Pty Ltd t/a Foodworks the Commissioner found the dismissal to be ‘harsh, unjust and unreasonable’ both substantively and procedurally. In this case, the employee had worked for the same store for 20 years, with 3 years under the employment of the current owner and had been advised via text message that her employment had been terminated.
This is eddie, I decide (sic) to give job (sic) to someone else but I will let u (sic) know if I need to to (sic) work, sorry for that’
The employer later argued that this message was misunderstood, due to English being their second language.
The dismissed employee was awarded $11,803.01 (the maximum amount due, less alternate wages earned in a new role) approximately 6 months after the dismissal occurred.
This case comes only months after two decisions in June where employees were also found to be unfairly dismissed after receiving the notification of their termination via text message.
Despite text message becoming a more popular way to communicate various aspects of the working relationship, it is NOT seen to be a reasonable way to advise a possible or actual termination of employment. Face to face notification of this decision is the recommended way to communicate this decision, except when the likelihood of physical violence is possible.
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*This is general information only and doesn’t take your specific business circumstances into account.