Bye bye job security

The government has announced plans to abolish unfair dismissal protection for people in workplaces with less than 100 employees.

This means 99 per cent of private sector employees will be able to sack their workers unfairly, not even giving them a reason for being sacked. These workers will have no protection under federal law.

The government is already trying to pass laws that would take away the right of everyone working in small businesses to get redundancy pay – leaving them with nothing if they get sacked or are made redundant.

And workplace agreements – both individual and collective – will no longer have to contain minimum award redundancy provisions.
One person who understands the unfairness of such a change is Debra Bennett. Debra won $23,000 from her employer Moran Healthcare last year after an unfair dismissal case was mounted by the NSWNA.

An aged care nurse, Debra had a back injury that meant she couldn’t give suppositories or eye drops, although she was up to performing all her other nursing tasks.

The judges described Moran’s argument as ‘ludicrous, defective and unmeritorious.’

Debra’s win had been a big win for other workers too. It had meant someone who could not perform one or two minor tasks of their jobs were safer from dismissal. Not now.

‘I was very angry about being dismissed. It was very unfair. I didn’t care about the money. I just wanted to make the employer accountable,’ said Debra.

‘We did wonders by winning my case but now they’ve moved the goalposts again. Most people will now be at risk. Employers will be able to sack people left, right and centre. I think it is absolutely appalling.’

How Howard is making it easier for you to be sacked

  • The federal government is proposing to remove from more than 3.6 million workers any protection from unfair dismissal. They can be sacked unfairly without an effective remedy.
  • The government’s unfair dismissal exemptions will apply to all businesses with 100 or less staff. That is 99% of Australian companies.
  • In workplaces with more than 100 staff, workers can be unfairly dismissed within the first six months of a new job.
  • The government also plans to abolish award entitlements to redundancy pay for workers in businesses with less than 15 permanent employees.
  • Individual contracts can wipe out all award redundancy provisions.