Sacking by text “disgraceful”

The Fair Work Commission again confirmed that no employer should dismiss a worker by electronic means, finding a sacking via text message "disgraceful and grossly unfair".

The Commission heard that the director told the worker that his rate of pay would be cut from $31.78 an hour to $25.

After refusing the lower rate and leaving the workplace, the worker received a text from the director saying: "Effective immediately I give notice of termination of your employment, please note you are required to work your notice period" and adding that "note that [you] are entitled to 4 to 5 weeks employment termination notice period".

The worker, who had worked at the company for 12 years, served out his notice, but the employer failed to pay his full entitlements and superannuation balance.

The Commission rebuked the company’s sole director for his "hopeless manner" in dismissing a worker after he refused to work the same hours for 22% less pay.

This judgement should serve as a warning to all employers when the Deputy President found the director's lack of IR expertise and the size of business is not an excuse for denying the worker fair procedures. He held that only rare cases warranted termination of employment other than in person and that the dismissal offends "common decency".

He said "It is not the first time I have had cause to point out that informing an employee of their dismissal by phone, text or email is an inappropriate means of conveying a decision, which has such serious ramifications for an employee."

Van-Son Thai v Email Ventilation Pty Lt [2019] FWC 4116 (27 June 2019)

Disclaimer: This summary is not legal advice and for more information on termination of employment call NECA Legal (WA) Pty Ltd on (08) 6241 6129 or email