Employment contract ends without dismissal taking place

Employment contracts ends without dismissal taking place

Employment contract ends without dismissal taking place

 

The Fair Work Commission has rejected an employee’s unfair dismissal claim, accepting the employer’s argument that the relationship simply ended at the completion of a work contract.

Carers NT Ltd (Carers NT) engaged the male employee’ DW’ from June 2020 until October 2023, supporting the Darwin and Katherine regions. He was initially employed as a casual and later became a Part-Time Support Worker under three successive fixed-term contracts.

The first contract was for almost 12 months (16 August 2021 to 31 July 2022), and the second was for exactly 12 months (1 August 2022 to 31 July 2023). The final contract was described as an ‘extension’ of the second contract and was for only three months duration (1 August 2023 to 31 October 2023).

In early October 2023, Mr W was told his employment would conclude at the end of the fixed-term contract, and it did, in fact, cease on 31 October 2023.

Carers NT is a charitable organisation that provides aged care services in the Northern Territory. Its services are subject to funding approval by the Department of Social Services NT.

In evidence before Deputy President Michael Easton, Mr W expressed disappointment that Carers NT had only offered him a final 3-month extension to his contract, submitting that the decision was made after they had raised issues about his performance and after he had complained about the behaviour of co-workers.

In contrast, Carers NT claimed that the decision not to offer him a further fixed contract was made after a review of operational requirements across the Northern Territory, including staff changes in Katherine and other offices.

They advised him in writing of their decision in early October after a review was conducted. He was told about the review on 1 August 2023, and because of the review’s findings, he was only offered a 3-month extension.

In assessing the relevant evidence provided, the Deputy President was satisfied that the employment ended as a result of the final contract, and therefore, no dismissal occurred.

As the Deputy President noted, “I am therefore satisfied that the employment did not end at the initiative of the employer”.

Consequently, the application was dismissed.

DW v Carers NT Limited (C2023/7158) 27 February 2024

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For queries about contracts, communicating effectively with employees, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 WAL LAW or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Ref: 432.0524

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