A small business owner has been ordered to pay a former employee $7900 after she was sacked soon after raising concerns with a government department about the business and its working with children check requirements.
Maria Gubern started working for Mimi Family Daycare Services back in July 2013 as a family daycare coordinator, but was sacked in July last year.
In May 2015, Gubern complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman in regards to her wages and superannuation.
Gubern told the Fair Work Commission that in the months leading up to her dismissal, she also made a complaint to WA’s Department of Local Government and Communities.
Gubern gave evidence that she was present when a representative from the department told the operator of Mimi Family Daycare Services he did not have the required working with children accreditation or insurance.
On July 29, Gubern showed up to work as normal but was told to leave the workplace.
She has not been paid since then and believes her employment was terminated on that date.
Commissioner Tanya Circkovic agreed, describing Gubern as a “forthright and credible witness”.
As a result, Commissioner Circkovic ordered Mimi Family Daycare Services to pay Gubern $7909.50 in compensation for her “harsh, unjust and unreasonable” dismissal.
The operators of Mimi Family Daycare Services did not attend the hearing.
Pointing out regulatory problems does not justify dismissal
Warwick Ryan, partner at Swaab Attorneys, told SmartCompany the individual in question did not have a reason to be terminated.
“She was not found to have been performing poorly or been guilty of misconduct,” Ryan says.
“Pointing out to an employer that there is a regulatory deficiency is not a breach of the employment contract.”
Ryan says the only question for him with this case is whether the former employee was within her right to report directly to the Department of Local Government and Communities before raising the issue with her employer.
Get SmartCompany FREE to your inbox every weekday.
“Yet, the commissioner in this case did not seem to think that was a concern,” he said.
“The compensation was calculated in a standard manner.”
SmartCompany was unable to contact Maria Gubern for comment.
SmartCompany was also unable to contact Mimi Family Daycare Service for comment.
The business has ceased trading, according to the Fair Work Commission decision.