Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

Termination unfair for teacher whose Teacher Registration Board registration lapsed

The Commission has ordered the reinstatement of a teacher whose contract of employment was alleged by the Department of Education to have been repudiated when she had failed to maintain her registration with the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia. The Commission made no order in relation to lost remuneration.

It was not argued that it was a term of the contract of employment between the teacher and the Department that the teacher maintain her registration with the Teacher Registration Board. Commissioner Matthews therefore concluded that the reason given to the teacher for her termination, that she had repudiated her contract, was not a good reason. However, Matthews C found that this did not necessarily mean that her termination was unfair.

Matthews C considered that the Department was aware that on the 8th of May 2018 the teacher asked for help to become re-registered and that they were also aware that the SSTU was seeking to preserve their member’s employment. Given the Department’s knowledge of this, their communication to the teacher that she had repudiated her contract, when she clearly had not, made the termination unfair.

Matthews C considered that there were also some materially unfair aspects to the process that led to the teacher’s dismissal such as that she had been employed by the Department for 15 years prior to her termination, was not given a fair warning of the possibility of termination if certain action was not taken, was not given the opportunity to explain herself to the decision-maker prior to being terminated and that other employees who had not paid their registration fees on time were treated differently and were allowed a limited registration from their Principals.

The Commission found that there was no good reason provided for why the teacher should not be reinstated. The Commission ordered that the teacher’s employment be considered to be unbroken by the period that she was not employed by the Department. However, the Commission stopped short of exercising its discretion to order payment of any remuneration that was lost, or likely to have been lost, because the teacher had clearly played a role in her employment coming to an end.

The decision can be read here.

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