Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

"Upfronts" bonus for employee

The Commission has upheld, in part, a claim for denied contractual benefits by an accountant who said that he was denied bonus payments for "upfronts" by the financial services provider he worked for.

The applicant submitted that "upfronts" means new revenue or new business. The respondent argued that "upfronts" in the financial services industry means a payment by a client at the stage of implementation of advice.

Senior Commissioner Kenner determined that "upfronts" must be given a meaning consistent with commercial objects and purposes of the transaction and consequently found that "upfronts" should be understood to mean an initial or first up payment by a client on the implementation of financial advice as provided by the respondent. On a spreadsheet of transactions, Kenner SC found that the items "Investment Initial Commission", "Insurance Initial Commission" and "Upfront Advice Fees-Product" all fall under the category of "upfronts" for the purposes of the employment contracts. Kenner SC found that the applicant established his claim for bonuses.

The applicant also made a claim for the furniture costs as they were required to set up an office at home from which the respondent's business was conducted. The applicant argued that, in a letter from the respondent, "table, chair, filing cabinet to be paid for to the value of $1,000" meant that they were entitled to $1,000 irrespective of the total amount spent on furniture. Kenner SC found that, whilst the terms of the letter were not entirely clear, the letter did not confer the benefit of a cash allowance payable to the applicant. The term was more in the nature of a reimbursable expense and, as the applicant did not produce any evidence of the purchase of any furniture, the claim for furniture costs was dismissed.

The decision can be read here.

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