What makes companies succeed the most, what factors actually matter the most for startup success? If you take a group of people with the right equity incentives and organize them in a startup, you can unlock human potential in a way never before possible.

Bill Gross – Founder and CEO, Idealab


When it comes to human resources, it doesn’t matter what size you are. You have the same issues; you need to recruit the talents and manage them; you need to figure out how to engage and pay them, and how to terminate the relationship when you have to.

When we talk about human resources, we’re talking about that function in an organization that handles the people’s stuff right. We are feeling beings; we want to feel appreciated, to belong, and to believe we’re making a meaningful contribution. To grow confidence in a start-up Business, we must address the very human needs. When it comes to meeting human needs, it has a bottom-line business impact. The more the employees are satisfied, the higher the profitability.

Richard Branson isn’t just a shrewd businessman, he’s a humble man to boot – the strongest message he has is you’ve got to be “nice to people. Seems obvious, right? Unfortunately, most businesses are there to make more money and when they are so focused on how to go about doing that, they don’t necessarily treat their employees as though they are people but rather like cogs in a machine. Ironically it is when you treat your employees best that they produce the best work – because, guess what, they feel valued!

When things don’t go right there are processes business owners need to manage. It is no longer as simple as “Fire Him/Her” – Employees are getting smarter with their rights and you need to make sure you keep ahead of them.


Here are some examples that will make you go “JUST WOW” –

An employee who was responsible for the death of 50 chickens after drinking alcohol before work on Melbourne Cup Day, has won an unfair dismissal case due to a lack of procedural fairness, and uncertainty and inadequacy of the employer’s workplace policy. Cannon v Poultry Harvesting Pty Ltd [2015] FWC 3126

If terminating an employee’s employment in reliance upon CCTV footage, ensure that the employee is given an opportunity to examine and respond to the footage before the dismissal. In Walker v Salvation Army (NSW) Property Trust t/as The Salvation Army – Salvos Stores [2017] FWC 32, the employer dismissed a store manager for serious misconduct amid allegations of theft. The employer relied on CCTV footage that purported to show the store manager holding four $50 notes. The store manager was not given an opportunity to properly view the CCTV footage nor respond to it during the investigation or prior to her dismissal. The unfair dismissal claim succeeded.

Even dismissing an employee who you believe Clearly has crossed a line may not be as simple as you think. Gill v Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd [2016] FWC 1472  

Disciplinary procedures and correcting poor performance

We’re going to be giving you an overview of how to conduct a disciplinary process. A fair procedure is VITAL. Otherwise, any resulting dismissal is likely to be Harsh, Unjust and Unreasonable.    

The employer must have a fair reason for dismissal. Misconduct is a potentially a fair reason for freeing the employer concerning Start-up Business BUT you need to make sure you investigate, have your facts, have followed a procedure and given the person the opportunity to not only respond but have a support person.

So, let’s look at the procedure what procedure should an employer follow. Let’s say something has happened.

  • Firstly, consider whether any formal action is necessary. Would a quiet word be enough? If you decide to take informal action, it probably should be verbal only, and not put on a disciplinary record although a manager should keep a note of it.
  • Secondly, consider whether an investigation is needed. What’s required will vary greatly depending on the circumstances. You need to be able to put the substance of the allegations to the employee so that the employee can give a meaningful response.
  • Thirdly, the suspension is only appropriate if there is a potential threat to the business or other employees or if it is not possible to investigate accurately. A knee-jerk reaction to suspend could lead to a claim for breach of trust and confidence in HR, and this could be an expensive claim. Suspension should be on full pay, and it’s safer if the employment contract provides for the right of suspension. Keep the suspension under review and for a shorter time as possible.
  • Fourthly, obtain all the evidence, conduct the investigation as quickly as possible, and speak to the witnesses. When interviewing the witnesses, they should be advised to keep the matter confidential. Consider if you need any physical evidence for example emails, CCTV and phone records.

Then and Only then can you determine on the balance of probabilities that the employee has engaged in behavior not desirable to the business. This is when you will start the disciplinary process – the invitation, allowing a support person, the right to respond to the allegation and then either re-investigate new info you have or decide on the outcome. Such outcomes may include no action being taken, a written apology, counselling, a warning, demotion, or dismissal, depending on the seriousness of the findings.

What to do before dismissing an under performing employee

If unfair dismissal laws apply to the under performing employee, you should do these things before making a final decision to dismiss them:

  • Inform the employee that their work performance is unsatisfactory.
  • Ensure that the employee is aware that their ongoing employment will be in jeopardy if the performance issue is not resolved. Confirm this in writing.
  • Keep records of any warnings that have been issued to the employee.
  • Allow the employee to respond to what you have outlined in performance discussions.
  • Give the employee a reasonable amount of time to improve their behaviour and work performance.

As an HR Support in Gold Coast and Brisbane, Fresh HR Insights give SME Business support and figure out the natural differences that happen within an organization. We are there when you need us – No lock in contracts – we focus on getting it right and exceeding expectations. Check out our testimonials or give us a call and find out for yourself.

If you want to go it alone then we have the solution for you – our fully comprehensive eBook on the disciplinary process – it includes everything you need including documents and templates for the letters you will need along the way.

NOT SURE then how about our 30-min support via our advice line BOOK HERE

Example areas for advice include: 

  • Managing employee issues such as lateness for work, absent without leave, under performance and poor conduct;
  • Dealing with complaints of Bullying and workplace investigations;
  • Termination of employment, what you can and cannot do and what is the correct procedure to follow;
  • Conflict Management and Communication strategies;
  • Advice on meeting legislative requirements;
  • General advice on the Unfair dismissal or other Fair Work Commission processes;
  • How to respond to and deal with workplace complaint​; and
  • Employee entitlements including the correct awards and pay rates;
  • Pragmatic advice on Human Resources issues
  • Guidance on disciplinary actions for example, informal and formal warnings
  • Guidance on Redundancies and terminations





Disclaimer: The above information should not be used as a replacement for expert advice and is written as an overview of the Disciplinary process. Please contact our team at Fresh HR Insights for support Mbl: 0452 471 960