Employer calls you in for a disciplinary meeting,
Can i have some advice please
Currently we are receiving a lot of phone calls regarding attending disciplinary meetings.
Now that the employer has the upper hand due to the high unemployment rate (increased supply of labor) and many employer’s are taking every advantage to reduce labor cost (read some of my other blog articles). Employees are now being subjected to increased, scrutiny, KPI’s, performance improvement plans, investigations, warning and meetings, which in many cases result in dismissal.
When we receive these calls, the first thing I say to everybody is under no circumstances resign and there is a very strict 21 days from the day you are told of your dismissal, to lodge a claim with the Fair work Commission. (now from when you get paid out or receive your dismissal letter), (a loosely enforced 12 months to lodge a discrimination claim with the relevant body).
Most employees know if they can do their job, are the expectations of the employer is reasonable or not, when they are called in for a meeting. There is a perception in the workplace that’s you get three warnings and you’re out. This is the general approach, adopted by the large supermarket chains.
However it does not necessarily apply in other industries, or as per your employment contact. What the Fair work Commissions through its decisions state it must be a valid reason and a process that is fair, given the individual circumstances.
When your called into a meeting, ask if you need a witness, it the answer is yes, make sure you take one, slow down the process if you cannot get one within the timeline for the meeting. If the answer is no, but you feel that the meeting is important, your job may be at risk, or it all seems a bit odd, insist on a witness.
Make sure your witness behaves themselves, it all about you, not them, some witness like to bully, “showoff”, make out there lawyers. This, instead of helping you, opens the door and give the employer additional ammunition to dismiss or discipline you.
The way I put it is this, “Plan A” of the Employer is to dismiss you (particularly if your suspended, they are looking for reasons so you don’t come back, not for reasons to get you back), in many meetings the employee has the answers, the employer then think Ok, I’m stuck, they then move onto “Plan B”, “you lied to us in the meeting”, “you wouldn’t answer the questions” (surprisingly some employees go into meeting and go no comment like on Law and Order, CSI on TV, Employees are obligated to participate in a genuine and meaningful way to maintain their employment), “your given is different answer today to what you said last week”, “you withheld information”.
Answer all the questions, in a transparent way, be truthful, show contrition if the circumstances require it, do not apologize if you haven’t done anything wrong. Some employees apologize just hoping they keep their job, and the Employer seizes on this to dismiss them.
Its hard for me to give any detailed commentary or specific advice as everybody’s circumstances are different, your welcome to call us, get advice, don’t think they (the employer) cannot survive without you, that your smarter than them, I’ve got that job until I win tattslotto or retire. Companies are dictatorships, they are not democracies, where everybody gets a vote, even government departments have someone at the top who take the decision.
I’m not saying put up with rubbish from your employer, stand up for yourself, keep yourself respect, its how you do it that matters. I hope this blog helps.