Employees usually use the services of McDonald Murholme to advise them of their rights at about the time of termination of employment and subsequently to assert those rights on their behalf.
There is in Australia today a maze of laws which can be relied upon by an employee to ensure that compensation is paid where an employer abuses its power. The employee needs to be advised about those laws and given a strategy to make the laws work for the employee.
In the workplace, there is an imbalance of power as the employer must exercise control and the employee must accept that control. That imbalance must not result in unfair dismissal nor prevent an unfair departure from employment.
We correct the imbalance of power to ensure that proper compensation in accordance with relevant law is paid at the time of termination of employment. McDonald Murholme empowers the employee to assert rights in the event of unfair dismissal.
Our approach is always to seek a prompt, early resolution to the conflict. This is best done through negotiation on behalf of the employee from a position of strength, based upon laws protecting employees and enforced by various courts and tribunals.
Where employers fail to engage in a proper process of dispute resolution, we have the experience and resources to support its client through any litigation process. While no two cases are the same, there are many common threads. The case notes below illustrate how many disputes are resolved.
Case Note 1
Client A is employed for 20+ years as a purchasing manager for a large and successful Victorian company. He has a wealth of knowledge about the company’s business. There is no written agreement as he was employed on a handshake. The son of the owner wishes to inject some young blood into the company and dismisses A without any good reason.
Client A is offered three months’ pay, which the company says is reasonable as A should be able to find another job fairly quickly based on his skills and experience. Client A, who is aged 50+, claims that he is entitled to one years’ pay-in-lieu of notice, which he claims is reasonable.
Legal proceedings are commenced. Company lawyers claim that they have advised the company that three months is enough. Shortly before the court hearing, Client A is offered ten and a half months pay plus legal costs. Matter settled.
Case Note 2
Client B is a warehouse worker who performs a range of tasks including some unpacking of imported products to be shelved. Client B lifts a carton marked at 25kgs. Actual weight is 40kgs+. Client B injures back. Client B calls for help. Error in the marking of weights revealed. Client claims WorkCover and weeks later then returns to work for light duties.
Client B is sacked for lifting 40kgs+ carton which caused original injury. Client B claims compensation for discrimination claiming that he was sacked because the employer did not want to have an injured worker back at the workplace. The company denies the claim. Shortly before hearing, the company pays all in compensation and legal costs.
Case Note 3
Client C employed as State Marketing Manager. Company restructure. Client C demoted to Account Manager and expected to go cold calling. Client ‘C’ loses commissions on her previous client base and is offered a lower commission rate on new sales. Client C claims compensation for the losses.
A settlement is negotiated in which client C resigns, receives redundancy payment equivalent to three months’ pay and a statement of service. Each party agrees to make no disparaging remarks about the other as part of the terms of the settlement and no legal proceedings are issued. Client C is not replaced.
Case Note 4
Client D is a part-time employee working shift work part-time at weekends, earning valuable income (double time). Workchoices legislation introduced. Client D moved to weekday shift. Client D claims unable to work weekday shifts due to family responsibilities and is not prepared to accept longer hours and no loading. Client D walks out and claims unfair dismissal. Case settled. The client paid all in compensation and legal costs.
Case Note 5
Client E offered employment as an assistant to a firm of accountants. The day before she is due to commence work, the employer calls her to say that the job is no longer available due to his unforeseen financial difficulties. Client E sues for misrepresentation under the Trade Practices Act. Employer’s lawyers advise him that Client E has no case. The matter proceeds to court. Court orders eight weeks pay as compensation plus legal costs.
Case Note 6
Client F applies for a position via a recruitment company. Completes application and is accepted into a position. Induction training commences but employer discovers that Client F has a minor criminal conviction 9 1/2 years earlier. The offer of employment is withdrawn. Client F commences legal proceedings claiming that she has disclosed the criminal conviction before being offered the job and was entitled to keep her job for twelve months under the contract. Case settles for all in figure including Client F’s legal costs.
Case Note 7
Client G is employed by a local manufacturing company which is taken over by a multinational. The multinational asks G to sign a new employment agreement. The new employment agreement reduces G’s entitlement to redundancy from about $130,000 to $100,000 by deleting the car allowance from the salary package upon which the redundancy is calculated.
Client G takes advice about the effects of the new contract. When he is told that he will lose $30,000 he refuses to sign the new contract. He keeps working under the old contract. Eventually, there is a company restructure. Client G is paid just $100,000. He has a contractual right to $130,000.
Legal proceedings commence recovering the balance of $30,000. The multinational company refuses to pay. On the morning of the court hearing, multinational caves in and pays $35,000 inclusive of costs. Case settled.