Tick-a-box fair dismissal code talk premature

Work on the proposed new fair dismissal code is still at the conceptual stage, and decisions on the detail are yet to be made, a member of the business group advising the Government says.

Work on the proposed new fair dismissal code is still at the conceptual stage, and decisions on the detail are yet to be made, a member of the business group advising the Government says.

Reports have emerged today that the group of small business representatives set up to advise Small Business Minister Craig Emerson has formulated a “tick-a-box” fair dismissal code, allowing employers to avoid unfair dismissal claims if they follow the checklist when dismissing an worker.

But a member of the group, National Retail Association executive director Gary Black, says while good progress has been made, no final decision has been made. “There has been discussion around a checklist, general ideas, but not much beyond that at this stage,” Black says.

Reports the group has agreed on a legal test under which sackings will be warranted if they are reasonable from the perspective of the average person is also premature, he says.

Labor made a pre-election promise to introduce a code that would set down simple steps for small businesses to follow in order to avoid legal claims or paying go-away money, and Black says talks have progressed along those lines.

“We’ve had some general discussions and talked conceptually about what sort of procedures or systems might assist small business and protect them from litigation, but we’ve not yet distilled that down to any specific proposal,” he says.

But overall, Black says, the process of creating a fair dismissal code and the group’s role within it is progressing well.

“It has been a constructive process –fundamental to that is that the Government is committed from its pre-election ‘Forward with Fairness’ policy to establishing a regime that was less onerous for small businesses, and everything I’ve heard in the discussion so far indicates they are serious in that,” Black says.

Emerson’s office this morning confirmed that no firm decisions on the code have been made.

“At this stage the code is still being developed and the working group will meet again on a date to be fixed,” a spokesman for Emerson says.

 

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