Fair Work Commission awards compensation to a worker who wagged the team huddle

Saturday 23 May, 2015 | By: Default Admin | Tags: unfair dismissal, Fair Work Commission

A 457 visa worker sacked for refusing to join a team-building office "huddle" has been awarded $8,500 compensation by the Fair Work Commission.

 

The metal polisher was dismissed by Brisbane company, East Coast Bullbars, in January, a day after he claimed he was too ill to participate in an afternoon toolbox meeting with colleagues.

The company required all employees to take part in morning and afternoon huddles, which usually lasted five to 10 minutes.

Providing an opportunity for employees to reflect on the day's work, the huddles were introduced for "team-building" and to "promote efficiency across the business".

The metal polisher claimed he only became aware of the huddle after he had clocked off; that he was feeling ill and had a headache due to the hot and humid weather.

A manager gave evidence that he called out to the worker three times to attend the huddle, but the employee refused to respond and left work. 

 

wagged team meeting 596x350 min 2

 

On the following day, the worker met with management, telling them he did not stay back for the huddle because he was unwell.

A manager said he did not believe him. "What you did was a sackable offence, and now you have been sacked. So you have lost you job right now," he told the worker.

Hearing the worker's unfair dismissal claim, commission senior deputy president Peter Richards found the worker "in all probability was being dishonest" by maintaining he was too sick to respond when the manager called out to him.

Mr Richards said the workers' conduct "was a public display of insubordination, exhibiting a lack of respect for the employer's reasonable instructions and procedures and an unwillingness to be candid to his employer in its investigations into the matter".

He said the worker had been subject to a previous productivity warning, had not expressed any misgivings about his conduct and had not apologised.

The worker "seems not to have assimilated the lesson from his experience in co-operating honestly with his employer", and his evidence "demonstrates continuing tendency towards intentional obfuscation".

However, the commission found the sacking was not justified.

"In my view, (the) conduct warranted counselling and a warning, and if repeated, a more serious response still. However, as an isolated incident, it was not conduct of a kind that was sufficient to cause a repudiatory breach of the employment contract," Mr Richards said.

The commission heard the consequences of dismissing for the worker, whose employment is subject to a section 457 visa, were "serious and may affect his capacity to remain in Australia for purposes of building an income stream to support his family abroad and obtaining permanent residency eventually".

The worker, who did not seek reinstatement after the company maintained it did not want him back, was awarded $8541 in compensation.

This is a copy of an article published by smh.com.au on 25 September 2015.

 

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