29 June 2015
In a decision handed down last week (Cerin v ACI Operations Pty Ltd & Ors  FCCA 1654), the Federal Circuit Court held that a human resources manager at bottle manufacturer ACI Operations (“ACI”) may have a penalty imposed on her personally for her role in dismissing an employee in breach of the National Employment Standards (the “NES”).
The manager gave the employee one month’s notice of termination of his employment rather than the five weeks’ he was entitled to under the NES (as an employee over the age of 45 who had been employed with ACI for over five years). The Court held that she was “involved” in ACI’s breach of the NES within the meaning of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Whether a penalty (which could be up to $10,200) will be imposed against the manager will be determined at a later hearing.
The decision makes clear that human resources managers must have a thorough understanding of the employment law framework in which they operate if they are to protect not just their companies, but themselves, from the ramifications of getting it wrong.