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Changes needed to the fair dismissal code

COSBOA has acknowledged the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s review of the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, released today. COSBOA strongly supports the recommendations made by the review.

Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA, echoed the misgivings about the current code made by the Ombudsman, Kate Carnell.

“The code clearly needs fixing. The FWC has said that 65% of fair dismissal claims made in the first three months of this year were dismissed for being invalid. This is ridiculous. Small business owners are just people and they don’t have the time or resources to go through courts. It wastes the valuable time of the employer who is trying to run a business and keep others employed, it wastes time of any employee who is some how or other caught up in the process, and it wastes the time of the Fair Work Commissioners and staff who have real issues to pursue.”

Mr Strong added “COSBOA members know that reforming the code is good for employment too. When businesses don’t trust the dismissal laws and are afraid of being caught up in frivolous or invalid unfair dismissal claims they are likely to only employ people as casuals or not employ them at all.”

Mr Strong argued that fixing the code was as much an issue for employees as it was for employers.

“The ambiguity of the current code affects the employees as much as the employers, especially when they are also asked to go to court to provide information. The unions should be supporting reform that Labor instigated when in government that has since been gamed by workplace relations lawyers and unscrupulous individuals seeking reward for poor behaviour.”

COSBOA members have reported that going to court can cause stress for the employees who have to attend as witnesses. It’s often not in their best interest to involve themselves in a conflict with their former co-workers and they don’t want to do it. Employers will therefore pay the ‘go away money’ to keep their other employees out of the fray.

Peter Strong added “in the end it is every employer and employee who suffer from a poorly designed and managed system. Fix it so that those few who are truly unfairly dismissed can get recompense and the others who are trying to get money by unfairly taking advantage of the system can try doing it in some other forum.”

For further commentary, see this article written by the CEO of the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA), Mark McKenzie. Mark is also the Chairman of COSBOA.

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