Two words that are enough to make a business owner break out into a cold sweat.
Or, so we are told.
What would you say if I told you that businesses shouldn’t be scared of unfair dismissal?
In fact, I believe that they should embrace it, and grow from the experience.
Why Is An Application Made?
What makes a former employee lodge an unfair dismissal application against your business?
Let me tell you that it isn’t to score a quick buck in “go away money”.
From my experience, I have found the following.
An application is lodged because they believe their employment has been unfairly terminated.
The employee also wants to use the process to air a grievance about being terminated.
Once this is understood, unfair dismissal applications are no longer scary.
Use Your Time Wisely
How would you respond to an unfair dismissal application?
Would you deliver some “home truths”, and “set the record straight”?
Or would you take the time to find a way to resolve the matter?
My guess is the first option.
While I don’t agree with it, it is understandable due to the adversarial nature of IR in Australia.
Except it doesn’t have to be that way.
Submit the employer’s response, though use the time to resolve the matter yourself.
Find a neutral spot somewhere, and sit down and have a chat with the former employee to see what the real issue is.
This, of course, doesn’t apply if the person was fired for gross misconduct. Such as violence, fraud, theft, etc.
Give Them Their Voice
Giving the former employee the chance to have a vent to someone who will listen may be all that needed to settle.
If there is something wrong with the process used, take this is the time to find it out.
Ask them what they really want, and what it will take to resolve the matter.
If the employee has been “fairly” terminated, then explain it to them why.
Remember, we all want to be heard, and for what we say to be understood.
This is why the “feel, felt, found” is a useful technique in sales.
What Should Be On The Table?
Now we come to the painful part of unfair dismissal.
Instead of thinking of a monetary settlement as “go away money”, ask yourself this question.
What will it take for this employee to become an advocate of the company?
Why would you want a former employee as an advocate, I hear you ask.
The answer is simple, social media and word of mouth are powerful things.
There is a very good chance that that employee knows someone who could be or is one of your best customers. Do you really want the way you treat a former employee having an impact on that?
If the termination has been “fair”, all it may take is a confidentiality deed to wrap things up. This could be all the employee is after, to keep their resume ‘tidy’.
If the termination was “unfair”, then you will have to cop it on the chin and work hard to reach an acceptable settlement.
Learn From The Experience
In life, we need to be growing and adapting to the challenges that life throws at us.
And being in business is no different.
While I am not wishing the experience of an unfair dismissal application on anyone. I don’t think that it is something that businesses should be scared of.
Use what you learn from listening and talking to the employee about their dismissal to improve the process.
After all, if we aren’t evolving in business, we are stagnating. And no business owner wants to hear that their business is stagnant.
If you do receive an unfair dismissal application, be proactive and seek a resolution yourself, rather than reacting to the process that the Fair Work Commission has in place.