Frequently Asked Questions

Q: In what situations can an Employee be summarily dismissed?

Summary dismissal is dismissal without notice. It does not require advance notice to the employee and wages are only paid to the time of dismissal.

An employer has a legal right to summarily dismiss an employee without notice for serious misconduct or other conduct which justifies such dismissal. Summary dismissal of an employee should be exercised most carefully and usually only in exceptional circumstances.

Many awards contain provisions regarding summary dismissal. However, employers under the federal system may no longer recourse to these award provisions. However, these employers can rely on the Workplace Relations Act  and Regulations which apply to award and non-award employees.

Some examples of cases where summary dismissal may be justified include cases where employees have partaken in:

  • wilful or deliberate behaviour inconsistent with the employment contract;
  • conduct causing imminent and serious risk to a person’s health or safety or the employer’s reputation, viability or profitability;
  • theft;
  • fraud;
  • assault;
  • intoxication at work;
  • refusal to follow lawful and reasonable instructions.

The employee’s conduct must be such that it is unreasonable for employment to continue.


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