Sacked by Email

YOURLifeChoices subscriber, Julie, has just been sacked by email and can’t believe this is a fair and proper way for an employer to act. Kaye offers some practical advice to help her take her case forward.

Q. Julie

I have just been sacked via email. I have requested an official ‘Notice of Termination’ from my Employer however, she refuses to send me one as she says I am only a contractor.

I had to sign a ‘Contract of Employment’ as my Employer receives Government Funding and it was a requirement of the Dept of Health & Ageing that I complete a Contract of Employment – I have the copy at home.

As part of the terms either party were to give one months’ notice – no written warnings or notice was received.

I was being paid monthly via sending in my invoice with my own A.B.N. – my position was Admin. Officer.

I am just wondering if you could clarify if my ‘Contract of Employment’ is still current even though I used to send my monthly invoice to my employer with relevant flexible hours. My employer told me after she sacked me that the Contract of Employment was no longer valid as I am a contractor (her company was my main source of income).

I live and work on the Gold Coast Queensland and I am waiting on a response to my query from Queensland Working Women.

Also I have been on the fair work website and downloaded a sample Letter of Demand – however, my employer notoriously doesn’t open her mail and would just say she didn’t receive it.

She is being extremely unprofessional and is desperately trying to get out of paying my outstanding money due on my last invoice and definitely doesn’t believe she needs to give me any written warning or payment in lieu of a written warning as she seems to think she is above any of the Industrial Regulations.

Any advice you could provide would be truly appreciated.

A. Hi Julie

It has taken us a couple of days to get following back from an outplacement specialist with whom we deal. His advice is:

The best (and only) suggestion I can make regarding the situation raised by your reader is to get some solid legal advice, from a Queensland lawyer (as the contract is probably framed in terms of Qld employment law, which can vary from state to state) who specialises in employment law. The problem in talking to a lawyer who isn’t right up to date on state and federal employment law is that a generalist can potentially cause even more pain in two ways: telling a client that they don’t have a case when they actually do OR telling a client that they have a case when they actually don’t. Either way, the lawyer gets a fee. It’s reasonably common practice in Victoria to approach an employment law specialist and ask for a “kerbside opinion”, which means a quick consultation to just get the basic facts on the table and a recommendation on whether it’s worth pursuing in more detail (this obviously minimises the cost). It’s also an opportunity to ask for an estimate of the fees involved in pursuing the matter.

Julie, it would seem the ‘kerbside opinion’ is a good starting point. Our specialist is correct – the laws vary from state to state.

We have also looked at the fair work website and in particular at the ‘unfair dismissal’ ombudsman section.

General contact details are:

Call FWA on 1300 799 675

or visit www.fwa.gov.au

The process to follow is clearly laid out but please note you must apply within fourteen days of dismissal.

With regard to your employer’s propensity to not open mail, this problem can easily be overcome by sending your letter of demand by registered post. This will demonstrate delivery of mail to the recipient and we believe it will encourage her to read your letter.

Julie, I hope this assists, and we wish you all the best in reaching a speedy and satisfactory resolution.

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