A member contacted our Workplace Advice and Support Team to get assistance on a sudden meeting she was called into regarding her position. Stratos Pavlis, Workplace Advice and Support Coordinator, answers questions on how Professionals Australia helped this member.
As a professional, I’ve always kept my skills up to date and worked at my day job to the highest standard. I’ve held very senior positions and been the linchpin in more than one organisation. I was on what I thought was excellent terms with my boss of over five years, although was regularly the brunt of things when stress got to the better of [my boss]. Again, as a senior manager, I simply just put up with it, thinking I’ll just find another job, but as the demands on me grew and grew I found it harder to stay positive and certainly had little time for my job hunting. My mood dropped and despite delivering on major projects and gaining literally millions in revenue, nothing I did was good enough. I copped more tongue lashings and more demands. It took me a while to realise I was being bullied.
Then out of the blue my boss sacked me. I still have no idea what the basis was and can only speculate on the trigger for it. I was told to “take your things and go!” and stood down pending a formal sacking. No process, no explanation, no rationale.
QUESTION: What is workplace bullying?
Stratos Pavlis (SP): Bullying is the repeated, unreasonable behaviour towards someone at work, creating a risk to health and safety.
Have you been in a scenario where you have faced repeated incidents of unreasonable behaviour or felt stressed/anxious at the unreasonable expectations of your boss?
We identified a FairWork Commission ruling on bullying under the guise of a Performance Management Plan.
A member, if you feel you are being bullied under the pretext of performance management, please contact our team @ firstname.lastname@example.org
QUESTION: I was called into a sudden meeting, I feel I’m going to be sacked, what should I do?
SP: We’ve found these ‘ambush’ meetings are a common employer tactic to catch employees off-guard and accept the terms of the meeting. Due to the sudden nature of the meeting, an employee tends to forget their rights and/or to seek out workplace advice and/or support.
In this case, the member phoned us a short-time prior to the meeting and outlined her fears. We gave her a real-time assessment of her situation and advised her to seek a deferral of meeting. This deferral gave us time to explore the options available to the member.
Question: I’m worried that asking for support from Professionals Australia will put my job at risk?
SP: If you’re ever ambushed by your employer, you are DOING THE RIGHT THING when you inform us. As a member of Professionals Australia, you have access to the advice/support you need!
Our team of lawyers and industrial officers exist to support you any workplace issues you may have.
QUESTION: What did you do for this member?
SP: As the member called us immediately and sought a deferral of meeting, the extra time led us to two breaches because of this ambush meeting.
We found that:
- The member had a workplace bullying case against her boss
- There was a breach of her Enterprise Bargaining Agreement
- The member was unaware of her EBA
- The employer did not inform the member of the meeting as per the EBA
The member sought to discontinue her employment which initiated discussions around a severance package. Through extensive negotiations, the member won a package that included:
- A severance package that exceeded her expectations
- The additions to the package gave the member more than enough time and financial support as she seeks other employment
- Date of separation
- As opposed to being sacked! This does not negatively affect the member’s search for other employment
QUESTION: What do I learn from this?
SP: The key things to take way from this are:
- Give us time! If you’re ambushed into a meeting, PHONE us immediately on 1300 273 762,
- Over the phone, we will give you a REAL-TIME ASSESSMENT of the situation,
- We are here to SUPPORT you! If you’re unsure of your rights, please contact us and,
- Be aware of your contract or EBA! Our dedicated team is available to help our members understand their EBA, contracts and awards.