The Fair Work Commission have upheld an unfair dismissal claim for a long-standing casual employee, emphasising that a failure to understand JobKeeper rules is not an excuse to wrongfully terminate an employee. The employee was eligible for JobKeeper and was working 29 hours per week. On the advice of doctors, the employee did not attend work for 4 days. On her return, the employer insisted that the employee undertake unpaid work to account for her absence. Following consultation with the Australian Tax Office and Fair Work Ombudsman, the employee refused to complete the unpaid work and was subsequently dismissed. The FWC found that the reason for dismissal was the employees’ refusal to make up the hours. This was not a valid reason and as such the FWC deemed the dismissal harsh, unjust and unreasonable within the meaning of the Fair Work Act. The employee was awarded $14,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal. The introduction of the JobKeeper scheme has brought challenges for employers. However, this decision demonstrates the importance of following the rules. Contact M+E for employment advice in relation to JobKeeper entitlements.

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