Unfair Dismissal Claim Dismissed Where Interstate Job Offer Made

7 July 2017

A payroll officer who refused to relocate from Western Australia to take up a human resources role in New South Wales has failed to establish that her resulting redundancy was the result of an unfair dismissal.

Easy Payroll Perth Pty Ltd (“Easy Payroll“) promoted the payroll officer to ‘Professional Employment Outsourcing Coordinator’ in late 2016 but when she attended a meeting about approving the role-change, she was told her position would become redundant.

The employer told the Fair Work Commission (“FWC“) that it revised its operations after substantial losses, and had decided to improve efficiency by creating a new full-time human resources manager and do away with the payroll officer’s new position. The company also decided to distribute her payroll duties between its full-time payroll officers so they would be operating at full capacity.

According to Easy Payroll’s implementation manager and managing director, the employee was encouraged during the initial meeting, and at a later consultation, to apply for the full-time New South Wales job. Although the company sought someone with more HR qualifications, they told the payroll officer that her application would be considered as a ‘high priority’.

The payroll officer maintained, while giving evidence, that she confirmed to them that she would consider the human resourcing role if it was offered to her but said she was only given the chance to apply.

She contended that they needed to offer her the New South Wales human resourcing job for the termination to be a genuine redundancy and that she would have been willing to retrain if necessary.

Commissioner Bruce Williams acknowledged that after reallocating her payroll duties and the human resourcing duties she was taking over, Easy Payroll no longer required her job to be performed by anyone. He was also satisfied that Easy Payroll complied with its consultation obligations.

Finding the redundancy genuine, Commissioner Williams dismissed the payroll officer’s unfair dismissal application.