A former employee of a business specialising in the design and fabrication of windows and window frames has been awarded $50,000 by the Fair Work Commission after he was found to have been unfairly dismissed after taking time off work to recover from surgery.
Koichi Yokohata had been employed by Lidco Oregon Australia as a technical manager for seven months before he needed to take time off work for surgery.
Yokohata gave written notice to his employer that he would be absent from work for 10 days in March this year the day before he was due to take leave, after previously discussing it with his boss.
On his last day of leave, Yokohata phoned his employer to say his recovery was taking longer than expected and he would return to work in four days’ time.
The Fair Work Commission heard the employer did not have an issue with this.
But when Yokohata returned to work, he presented a medical certificate to his employer and claims he was verbally dismissed.
His employer told him he was not meeting the business’s expectations, according to the evidence heard by the commission.
Yokohata also told the commission he was not paid outstanding wages or other accrued entitlements.
Lidco Oregon Australia was not present at the Fair Work Commission hearing and did not provide written documentation regarding Yokohata’s dismissal.
Because of this, Commissioner Ian Cambridge ruled the termination was “manifestly harsh, unreasonable and unjust”.
“In this case the employer has failed to participate in any conciliation of the matter,” Cambridge said in his judgment.
“The employer has also failed to attend at the hearing or provide any explanation for non-attendance …The employer’s failure to properly attend to proceedings before the commission is broadly consistent with and reflective of the evidence of the unacceptable circumstances of the applicant’s dismissal.”
As a result, the commission ordered Lidco Oregon Australia pay Yokohata 20 weeks’ remuneration, which totalled $50,000.
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Sarah Lock, principal lawyer at Workplace Law Group, told SmartCompany under the Fair Work Act employers must not dismiss their employees if they are temporarily absent from work because of illness or injury.
“The commission determined that there was found to be no valid reason given by the employer for the termination and there was a complete lack of procedural fairness given to the employee,” Lock says.
“Employers need to ensure that they have proper policies processes and procedures in place so that employees know exactly what is expected of them when applying and taking personal leave.”
SmartCompany contacted the managing director of Lidco Oregon Australia Pty Ltd but did not receive a response prior to publication.
SmartCompany was unable to contact Koichi Yokohata.