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The scenario facts
‘Big Bikkies’ is a chain of three cafes and a separate corporate office in Melbourne, Victoria. The business is highly regarded for their exquisite biscuits made on the premises and sold at the cafes. It is a private company, 100% owned by Mr Monte Carlo, who is also the on-site manager of one of the cafes. The business employs 4 apprentices, 6 bakers and 1 part-time administrative staff member who undertakes clerical work and payroll. It also has a pool of 5 casual employees who help reasonably regularly when others are sick or during busy periods.
The store that Mr Carlo manages has two apprentices and two bakers. One of the apprentices, Mr Iced Vovo, is in his third year. The other apprentice, Mr Sao, has just over 12 months of service.
During the last couple of days, Mr Carlo discovered that both apprentices (Mr Sao and Mr Iced Vovo) had been regularly posting to several social media sites about their jobs and the business.
Mr Sao’s posts are on Facebook; they state the following:
‘Another day baking biscuits, another day of a low wage, another day watching my boss reap the benefits of my hard work. We should be paid more’.
‘There are some days when I wish I could just tell customers to shove their attitude. So many of our customers at work treat us like dogs. They might love exquisite biscuits, but they are exquisite assholes’.
One of Mr Iced Vovo’s posts was on Instagram; it showed Mr Iced Vovo in the workplace, standing in front of some cookie dough. He was not wearing his hairnet and he looked like he was about to sneeze.
When Mr Carlo found out about these social media posts, Mr Carlo became very angry as he is very proud of his business. Yesterday, Mr Carlo came into the store and in a fit of rage, instantly sacked both apprentices without notice. He paid out their entitlements.
Mr Carlo has heard that Mr Sao may challenge his dismissal. The last thing he could afford is a big payout for an unfair dismissal, especially since he will need two more apprentices to replace the ones he has sacked. In Mr Carlo’s opinion, having either Mr Sao or Mr Vovo back in the workplace would be equally as bad.
There are two components to this assessment task:

  1. You need to provide Mr Carlo with a 1500 word (10% +/- applies) legal advice that answers the following :
    • Do the unfair dismissal rules apply to his business? He heard something about small businesses being exempt, but does this apply?
    • Is he liable for unfair dismissal and what would be his potential liability if Mr Sao’s application was successful?
    • Is there anything else Mr Carlo should be worried about?
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