A Nokia employee has lost an unfair dismissal claim finding performance management processes were correctly implemented.
The 60-year-old Nokia employee supervised a telephone exchange site and had been employed for six years. Nokia received several complaints about his work such as having an abrasive manner, attendance issues, sleeping at his desk, playing games on his phone, not keeping his office tidy or completing maintenance tasks, and insulting the English of Nokia employees in India. Nokia’s HR department was contacted when complaints continued and implemented performance improvement processes.
This involved investigating the complaints and issuing a first written warning. The employee was put on a performance improvement plan (PIP) for three objectives; attitude and behaviour, productivity and focus on job related tasks. The goal of the PIP was to have no complaints related to his attitude or use of his phone, meeting work deadlines and full attendance when required to be at work. Dates were set to review the PIP. HR received a complaint from a co-worker, a month after instating the PIP, about the state of his office and a final written warning was given to the employee. The PIP existed for more than a year and involved several meetings discussing his performance.
Nokia later received a complaint the employee had removed underfloor cables and equipment without the client’s consent. Nokia investigated the matter and determined a serious breach of procedure had occurred so dismissed him. The employee was notified of the reason for his dismissal and was given the opportunity to respond before Nokia considered and made the final decision.
In response to the complaints, the employee claimed he slept in his office because he worked long days and had a lot of free time, also reporting he suffered from a sleep disorder. However, the PIP outlined work duties he could complete during this “downtime” such as safety related matters and completing reports. The employee admitted the incident with the underfloor cables was a mistake.
The Fair Work Commission found Nokia had used the PIP fairly and had a valid reason for dismissing the employee regarding his performance and conduct. The employee was given more than a year to improve his performance and conduct on the PIP but continued to attract complaints and did not remedy all behaviour. Therefore the employees claim for unfair dismissal was rejected.
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