Terminating employees can be a minefield of compliance at the best of times, so during the festive season there are additional issues employers should be aware of.

From the need to demonstrate procedural fairness to the correct calculation of leave and termination payments, the festive season increases the pressure on managers and team leaders to get performance management and termination right – especially at a time when HR is often on leave.

Procedural and Natural Fairness

The management of employee performance or indeed the end of an employment relationship – be it by termination or redundancy – requires the observation of certain forms and elements that ensure the relationship ends appropriately. None is more important than the concept of Procedural or Natural Fairness, wherein employees are offered a chance to explain their actions and behaviours and be given an opportunity to rectify or improve those actions and behaviours if appropriate. Management needs to be open to the reform of the behaviour in instances where reform is appropriate. For grievous misconduct and serious breaches it is still important for management to give the employee a chance to tell their side of the story as there may be mitigating circumstances that the employer should take into account before determining the appropriate response.

This requirement is not reduced due to the Christmas break. As many management staff go on leave and pressures increase due to high retail activity, there is a real possibility of knee jerk reactions to performance issues occurring in the Christmas period. All line managers and team leaders need to be aware of the need to build this concept of procedural fairness into their performance management responses and to seek advice from managers and third parties if required.  Members are reminded that ACAPMA can assist in the performance management of employees in member businesses through the provision of advice and support as well as template letters and checklists.

Final Payments

When calculating final payments for the end of an employment relationship during the festive season, it is important to note if an employee would have been entitled to have a public holiday off at full pay then that day must not be counted as notice and must be included in the termination payment appropriately. If a permanent employee is terminated with two weeks notice from day x and within that two week calendar period there are three public holidays that the employee would have been entitled to then the notice period and any payments will be for the two weeks plus three days to account for the public holidays.

Also worth noting is that when the employer is paying out entitlements in lieu of notice then the figure to utilise is the rate the employee would have been on had they actually worked the notice period. This includes allowances and overtime that would have been required to work for that period, such as the Dangerous Goods Allowances.

Here to Help

Through the festive season ACAPMAlliance Workplace Relations Professionals are available to assist members by calling 1300 160 270 or you can email elishar@acapma.com.au. Through the Christmas period and indeed all year round, ACAPMA members can access resources and can call on the advice and support of the ACAPMAlliance Workplace Relations Professionals on 1300 160 270.

HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation by  calling 1300 160 270 and speaking to one of ACAPMA Workplace Relations Professionals its free for members. ACAPMA membership is affordable at only $550 per year for a single site and valuable with sites gaining HR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts. Click here to learn more about ACAPMA Membership.