The Fair Work Commission (‘the FWC’) have determined that an employee was unfairly dismissed within the meaning of the Fair Work Act (‘the Act’) even though the employee resigned. The case, Sathananthan v BT Financial Group Pty Limited [2019] FWC 5583, involved a business development manager who resigned because their employer failed to respond to a number of complaints he had made about his work circumstances. The applicant complained to his employer about various issues, including his excessive workload (often over 70 hours per week) and grievances with a support officer. The applicant contended that his resignation was forced and therefore within the meaning of dismissal under section 386 of the Act. The employer was of the view that the employee resigned of his own freewill and volition.

Whilst the FWC accepted that the employer did not intend to cause the applicant to resign, it was determined that given the employer’s inaction, the applicant had no reasonable option to resign. The FWC held that this amounted to a constructive dismissal. Further, the FWC found there was no valid reason for the dismissal meaning that it was harsh, unjust and unreasonable and as such, unfair within the meaning of the Act. The FWC awarded the applicant $45,990 in compensation for lost income. This decision makes it clear that employers need to adequately investigate and deal with workplace conflicts and complaints in order to comply with employment legislation. Contact M+E for further information and assistance handling claims made under the Fair Work Act.

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