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When your employees push you too far

All of us have days when the people we work with get on our nerves. I know I have days when I think it would be much easier to go home and come back tomorrow with a fresh outlook. Luckily for me, and hopefully for most of us, those days are much less common than the days when we get along with our colleagues and can work productively and positively as part of a team.

For the owner of a business, or the manager of a team, the days when everyone fails to get along can be even more stressful, especially if there are internal disputes between management and staff.

A recent Federal Court case highlights the extent to which negative employee/employer relationships can impanct upon both the employees and the employer personally.

In Transport Workers’ Union of Australia, NSW Branch v No Fuss Liquid Waste Pty Limited [2011] FCA 982 (26 August 2011), the owner of No Fuss Liquid Waste was confronted by his employees and a Transport Workers’ Union of Australia (TWU) official with concerns that they were not receiving their correct pay or entitlements.

The company owner arrived at the workplace one morning to find that a meeting had been convened by the union and the employees. Upset by the confrontation from his employees, the owner told each of the employees that they were sacked and that he was going to shut the business down. He then hit the TWU official several times.

Following this outburst, the owner of the business collapsed and was taken by ambulance to hospital. He was later admitted as a day patient to a psychiatric facility.

The judge in the matter ordered payments of $12,250 to be made to the union and compensation of $8,333 to be made to three former employees and $5,001 to be made to another former employee.

It is beneficial to get a professional to advise on how to diffuse the situation, before it gets to the stage where both the employees and the employer are put at risk.

We can intervene before it gets to this stage by assisting with behavourial management and disciplinary strategies. We can also advise the best way of dealing with unions, as well as with disgruntled or concerned employees.

For further information, please contact the Workplace Law Team.