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Fire at will bill raises no-dole fear

12 December 2008

Fire at will bill raises no-dole fear

The Government's legislation giving employers 'fire at will' rights over employees in their first 90 days of work raises the fear that workers will face a double penalty of a 13 week stand-down for the unemployment benefit, the Green Party says.

Provisions in the Social Security Act permit Work and Income to impose the 13-week stand-down if employees have been dismissed for 'misconduct', Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"Under the current law, an employee who is dismissed for alleged misconduct and contests the dismissal will be paid the unemployment benefit on the condition that he or she will have to pay it back if the misconduct is proven.

"However, when the legislation currently before the House becomes law, there will be no mechanism for a dismissed employee to challenge a dismissal.

"An employee who is dismissed, say, on suspicion of theft, will be stood down from the dole for 13 weeks, and will have no means of proving their innocence or challenging either the dismissal or the stand-down.

"I have raised this issue in Parliament with the Minister of Labour and I am totally unconvinced by her response. She says that it is not the Government's intention that the 13 week dole stand-down be imposed unless there is misconduct by dismissed employees. She misses the point that under her fire at will bill there is no mechanism to determine whether an allegation of misconduct actually has any substance," Ms Bradford says.

"My fear is that wrongfully dismissed employees will end up destitute and become a drain on either or both our criminal justice and health budgets."


ENDS

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