Performance Management and Dismissal
Fair Work Australia has found it was unfair for HJ Heinz Company Australia to dismiss a Sales Manager who refused to be performance managed because he feared it was designed to trigger his dismissal by the Company.
In ordering the reinstatement of the former WA Sales Manager, employed by Heinz from 1983 until his dismissal in August 2011, FWA Deputy President McCarthy said the performance grounds relied on by management had been “imperfectly, if not carelessly, formed for an employer of Heinz’s size“.
One of the reasons Heinz management gave the Tribunal for insisting on an individual performance management plan for the Manager was a low score in his annual review. However, this score was not an individual performance rating, but a Company-wide rating that gave all employees the same score. DP McCarthy said, “It could not be a justifiable reason or even part of a reason for the development of a plan solely for [the manager]”.
The Sales Manager repeatedly asked for details of the performance concerns and expressed his fear that the Company was going to use this process to force him out of his job. Ultimately, he was given until 17 August 2011 to sign the performance management plan or be dismissed.
Heinz argued that the dismissal occurred because the Manager refused to take part in discussions about performance concerns or even sign up to an individual performance management plan. However, Deputy President McCarthy said that he did not accept Heinz’s argument, but believed the dismissal was instead based on a possibly flawed view that his performance required improvement.
Deputy President McCarthy said Heinz had not satisfied him that reinstatement was not possible and ordered that it appoint Mr. Moretti to a position on no less favourable terms and conditions than his former position, and repay the remuneration he had lost between his dismissal and the reinstatement.