In the thousands of phone calls that the Restaurant & Catering Association’s Industrial Relations hotline receives, every so often a phone call about an underperforming employee or a staff member that has engaged in serious misconduct comes up. The majority of the phone calls is in relation to the Restaurant Industry Award, Hospitality Industry General Award or the Fast Food Award. Often the vast majority of the topics cover and include the wages table, classification, allowances, annualised salaries, recruitment and performance management.
Inevitably, there is a smaller proportion of enquiries about the termination of employment which is often a last resort for our members and for employers. Termination of employment is never easy in hospitality. With an industry facing a skills shortage, termination of an underperforming staff member or an employee who has engaged in serious misconduct results in difficult conversations. With tv shows like The Apprentice popularising terms and the drama of stating “You’re fired”, business owners and employers have termination as the last option on their mind, if it is even considered.
Sometimes, members may be need advice or in the heat of the moment, employers are unsure about how to terminate a staff member. Popular questions such as “how to fire an employee” or “how to terminate without notice for serious misconduct” are raised. Scenarios such as “an employee has harassed a colleague and we want to terminate them for gross misconduct, how do we remove them legally?” often lead to discussions about unfair dismissals and the procedural fairness required even if the employee has done the wrong thing.
While employees often have the Fair Work Ombudsman for advice on unfair dismissal or a termination, R&CA provides an industrial relations advice on the phone and even a Fair Work Commission Representation Service when an employee has lodged an unfair dismissal claim. Employers often need assistance with the employer response forms as well as an appearance at the mediation and conciliation meetings. Dismissal can be complex and daunting. No one ever starts a business with a dream to fire employees. However, if assistance is ever required, R&CA is here as the Home of Hospitality in Australia.
You can call the IR hotline on 1300 722 878 for guidance on terminating an employee.
Learn more about the R&CA Fair Work Commission Representation Service here.