King & Wood Mallesons

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Sacking a fixed-term employee before the end of their contract can be unfair dismissal

By John Renda

The Fair Work Commission has held that a fixed-term employee sacked before the specified end date in her contract was entitled to pursue remedies for unfair dismissal.

The employee was hired on a fixed-term contract that was specified to end on 30 June 2013. However, due to a breakdown in the relationship, the employee stopped performing work for the employer on 30 May 2013, but was still paid wages for the remainder of the term of the contract. The employee claimed that she had been unfairly dismissed.

The Fair Work Act states that an employee is not ‘dismissed’ where ‘the person was employed under a contract of employment for a specified period of time… and the employment has terminated at the end of the period’ (fixed-term exemption). However, the Fair Work Commission found that the employee had been dismissed on 30 May 2013, before the fixed-term contact’s specified end date…

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