Small business deserves a fair go in Fair Dismissal Code

The Australian Chamber backs the latest call for greater balance in the unfair dismissal system to better support small business owners trying to do the right thing, but who are exposed to costly and time-consuming claims.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson said small businesses would welcome the comprehensive review of the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code released by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, today.

“The Small Business Fair Dismissal Code has been in place for a decade yet reports from our members of inadequacy, misapplication and a failure to deliver balanced outcomes continue,” Mr Pearson said.

“Small business owners value retaining their staff and do not make decisions to terminate lightly.

“We were promised years ago the Code would be ‘tailored to the needs of small business and be reduced to a clear and concise reference to help these employers meet their obligations under a simpler unfair dismissal system’ – but it never was.

“Instead too many small business owners, the people who are the lifeblood of local communities, who are working hard to keep their doors open and who are doing the right thing by employees and customers, are getting caught out by the Code and dragged into unfair dismissal claims.

“It’s time-consuming and it’s costly. Too many small businesses are forced to pay ‘go away’ money they cannot afford in order to settle these claims, regardless of the rights or wrongs.”

Mr Pearson said one of the problems with the Code is that it remains far too open to interpretation.

“We need better, clearer, simpler and genuinely reliable guidelines for small business owners to ensure they meet their responsibilities and workers are given a fair go.

“We hope that the review by the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman will help us to achieve that outcome.”

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