Inappropriate behaviour of staff and supervisors against company direction and policy is increasingly likely to result in dismissal for serious misconduct.

The Fair Work Act 2009 regulates applications for unfair dismissal remedies, where dismissed persons may apply to the Fair Work Commission to order a remedy for unfair dismissal.

In order for the dismissal to be considered unfair, the Commission must be satisfied that the decision was harsh, unjust or unreasonable, and further consider whether there existed a valid reason for dismissal – in relation to the person's capacity or conduct.

In a recent matter, a supervisor employed by Omnigrip Direct Pty Ltd was dismissed for serious misconduct. The employer alleged that he disobeyed company policy, and lawful and reasonable directions, when he allowed members of his team (and himself personally) to consume alcohol at a celebratory lunch.

The supervisor submitted an application for an unfair dismissal remedy under the Fair Work Act. In this decision, the Commission confirmed that, contrary to management direction and company policy, the supervisor had allowed his team to consume alcohol and had himself consumed alcohol, which thus formed the basis of his dismissal.

The arguments presented by the supervisor were rejected and it was maintained that company policy and management direction are to be followed at all times. It was determined that the supervisor defied direct instruction and ignored clear company policy, which constitutes serious misconduct and resulted in the termination of his employment.

Important message for employees

This is an important and timely reminder for employers, and their management teams.

Although the dismissal of employees can be complicated, it is increasingly important for all staff and employees to follow direction provided in company policies and other relevant company documents.

It is crucial that a company maintains clear and unambiguous policies for appropriate circumstances and clear management direction.

Further, all policies should be conveyed well so that all employees are confident and aware of company guidelines, and can act in accordance to them.

It is also important for employers to be decisive and consistent when applying workplace policies.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.