We have written previously about Cerin v ACI Operations Pty Ltd & Ors. The Federal Circuit Court has now determined the applicable penalties and ordered that the HR manager pay a penalty of $1020 for her role in the contravention. The employer, ACI, whose role was held to be more serious, was fined $20,400 in penalties.
By way of background, the Applicant employee was dismissed and successfully brought a case against both the employer and the HR manager involved in his termination for breach of the notice provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (‘FWA’). The employee received pay in lieu of notice and for reasons that were not clear the amount he received was a couple of days short of what is required by the NES. The earlier decision held that both the HR manager and the employer were liable and this decision has now confirmed the penalties that apply to each.
Lessons for Employers
The issue was not the relatively small amount of the underpayment but rather the breaches of the FWA. The National Employment Standards incorporated in the FWA set out minimum notice requirements. These are not optional or discretionary. They are the minimum entitlement which may be increased (by virtue of a contract or other agreement) but not decreased.
Employers and key personnel involved in managing employees need to ensure that they know and apply the correct employee entitlements. The FWA includes provisions that may result in liability for both the employer and the individuals involved if there is a breach of the legislative requirements.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Link to last weeks article - Handling difficult employees http://www.blandslaw.com.au/blog2/218-handling-difficult-employees.html