Fair Work Commission – Investigation Procedural Deficiencies


The Fair Work Commission has found that the sacking of a mother and daughter by an abortion clinic was unfair because the clinic failed to adequately investigate the allegations of fraud and bullying made against the pair [1].


In essence:

  • There were allegations that the practice manager of the clinic bullied nurses by threatening to dismiss them because they had left unconscious patients unattended.
  • Further allegations were made that both the practice manager and her receptionist daughter were incorrectly recording their hours, such as by failing to record cigarette breaks and long lunches
  • In denying the claims, both the practice manager and receptionist claimed that the director of the clinic had concocted the allegations in order replace them with his own wife and daughter.
  • There were also claims that the director stated he could not “afford to have himself or his business” involved in anti-bullying application brought by the nurses at the Fair Work Commission

Fair Work Commission – Decision

The Fair Work Commission:

  • Concluded that the dismissal was unfair because the director failed to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the bullying allegations or attempt to resolve the problems between the parties
  • Although the applicant’s inaccurate recording of time and wages was a valid reason for dismissal, the respondents argument was undermined by the “significant procedural deficiencies” in the dismissal process, including not enough time being given to the employees to prepare a “cogent” response to the allegations
  • Found that ultimately it was “underlying commercial and interpersonal factors between staff” that led to the director’s decision to terminate the practice managers employment
  • Awarded the practice manager $4500 in compensation for four weeks’ wages.
  • However, the Fair Work Commission declined to make orders to compensate the receptionist as she had “promptly secured alternative employment”

Employment Law – Tips for Employers

Our Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions employment law team recommends employers:

  • review this Fair Work Commission decision
  • seek the assistance of an employment lawyer to understand the impacts of this decision
  • ensure that where allegations of misconduct arise in the workplace, that those allegations are properly investigated and the employee concerned is given a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations
  • ensure that where disciplinary action is contemplated, in particular potential dismissal, that a procedurally fair process is followed prior to any decision being made
  • fairly, consistently and lawfully respond to breaches of employment contracts and employment law policies
  • damages can apply for breaches of employment contracts and some employment law policies (which an employment lawyer can advise on)
  • raise any employment law questions with an employment lawyer

Employment Law – More Information

Please call the leading employment lawyers in Parramatta, the Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions employment law team on 9635-7966 to speak with one of our employment lawyers.

[1] Mrs Nicole Webb v The Trustee for SWC Unit Trust T/A Salisbury Day Surgery [2017] FWC 2573 (26 May 2017); Ms Lauren Webb v The Trustee for SWC Unit Trust T/A Salisbury Day Surgery [2017] FWC 2573 (26 May 2017)