Dismissal - overview for employers
This information is for state system employers, including small businesses who are sole traders and partnerships. If you are a national system employer (eg a Pty Ltd company), visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for information on your employer obligations.
Under State laws, you cannot dismiss an employee if to do so would be harsh, unfair or oppressive. You must have a valid and fair reason for doing so, such as:
- consistent unsatisfactory work performance (which has been raised with the employee and the employee given further training and an opportunity to improve their work performance)
- inappropriate behaviour or actions
- serious misconduct.
Serious misconduct can include:
- causing a serious and imminent safety risk
- being under the influence of alcohol or drugs at work
- assaulting a workmate
- theft or fraud
- damaging the reputation or profitability of the business
- refusing to carry out a lawful or reasonable instruction.
Under federal laws, it is unlawful to terminate an employee on certain specified grounds such as race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, family or carer’s responsibilities and temporary absence from work due to illness or injury. For the full details of the grounds for which it is unlawful to terminate an employee, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website at
When you dismiss an employee you must:
- provide the required notice period
- pay out unpaid wages, accrued annual leave and any entitlement to long service leave
- provide a separation certificate if the employee requests it (a written statement stating the period of employment and type of job or work performed)
Unfair dismissal claims
If an employee believes they have been unfairly dismissed, they can make a claim for unfair dismissal with the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission. An application must be made to the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission within 28 days from the date of dismissal and the former employee is required to provide a copy of the application to the employer. Late claims are accepted in some very limited circumstances, such as where the employee can show valid reasons for not being able to meet the 28 day requirement.
For more information on responding to unfair dismissal applications, visit the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission website.
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