Wednesday, 16 November 2016

One too many breaches: Termination deemed fair for repeated breaches of policies and procedures

A recent decision of the Fair Work Commission sets out when repeated breaches of company policies and procedures may be reasonable grounds for dismissal.

Case Study: Harvey v MMG Australia Ltd [2016] FWC 7351

Mr Harvey was employed as a truck driver by MMG Australia Ltd. One night, in February 2016, Mr Harvey was in an underground mine driving a dump truck. Mr Harvey’s truck collided with an IT basket – a heavy framed basket carrying mining tools. The cost of the damage to the IT basket was estimated at $15,000.

MMG’s safety policy requires employees to remain at the scene of an accident and immediately report the incident to management. Contrary to the policy, Mr Harvey chose to leave the scene to heat up his lunch before reporting the collision to management.

Following the breach, Mr Harvey’s employment was terminated in March 2016 and he made an unfair dismissal claim.

Prior to the February incident, Mr Harvey had been involved in five previous breaches of MMG’s safety policy.

The Commissioner stated that Mr Harvey should have been ‘hyper-vigilant’ about complying with the company’s policies, as he had received several warnings based on previous breaches of company policies. Consequently, the Commission held that the dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

Lessons for Employers

This case illustrates the Commission’s perspective on policy breaches.

Employers should:

  • ensure that each employee is aware of all relevant company policies and procedures
  • clearly communicate to employees the consequences of breaching policies
  • ensure workplace policies follow industry best practice
  • implement and follow, when required, appropriate disciplinary procedures.

HR Legal works with employers to develop policies with a focus on industry best practice, as well as procedures for appropriate disciplinary processes. If you require assistance in relation to these areas, please contact us.


This article was produced by HR Legal. It is intended to provide general information only in summary format on legal issues. It does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on as such.

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