Unfair dismissal for contractor - Seeking legal advice

Hi guys,

I tried to keep the story short. I work in IT contractor, 4 months ago I started contracting for a company (through my ABN), I work with leader X. About 2 weeks ago we had a deadline to finish, so the senior project manager ask some devs to work and support on Saturday, some of the devs are contractors as well, but with different recruiters. I also asked leader X permission to work on Saturday but got no response. Like other devs, I input the timesheet for working on Saturday.

However, the leader X only consider these work are support, he assume I did not work a lot on that day, so he rejected my timesheet. I sent a lot of email to him and senior project manager who asked me to work on Saturday. After some argument, he finally approved my timesheet.

However, until today, leader X called recruiter that I did not complete my work properly, and told recruiter to terminate my contract. This is not true and unfair.

Questions:

  • Which legal advice I should do right now?
  • We have anti bully policy and person to handle bully cases, I think I can send information to this. But not sure if they will solve this as I just worked here 4 months.
  • Fair work?

Thanks

Comments

  • +15

    So you worked a Saturday without permission. Then got upset when they wouldnt pay you?

    You're a contractor. Unless stipulated in your contract, they only have to give you 24 hours notice. You have zero legal recourse.

    • -1

      I got permission from senior project manager, high level than leader X. At the same time people who worked on that date got paid, why I can't get paid on that day?

      • +10

        Your team lead decides who will work and who won't and he deiced your contribution wasn't required on this given Saturday but you made a big fuss about it writing to managers higher up the chain of command (and bypassing your immediate report undermining his authority through the whole episode). So what do you think he will do? I know what I'd do if I were him.

        You should have enjoyed that weekend and if you were so keen to work on Saturdays then find something else to do. You are a contractor and you only work your contacted hours unless told otherwise. You just can't force your way in to working over the weekend!!!

        • -4

          I think it is quite funny because leader X is in the same team when senior manager required specific people to work on that day. So when he said I actually did not work on that day, that's not true.

          But thanks anyway.

  • +8

    Read your contract regarding notice period (Or payment in lieu of notice). That's about all you are entitled to

    • +3

      lawyer who specialises in employment law

      OP is a contractor.

  • +1

    Read your contract. It will not be unfair dismissal, it will be not giving appropriate notice to terminate contract.

  • +12

    I also asked leader X permission to work on Saturday but got no response

    That should have been the end of it.

    • Yes, should have know that. Personally when I see project has urgent issues and need to fix, being a team player I want to fix it quickly for others, rather than telling them I need to wait for permissions.

      • +10

        The problem is, you have argued with your customer over getting paid for unapproved work. If customer refuses to pay for unapproved work (even if it was necessary), you let it go and learn your lesson.

        But no, this is not what you did… you went ahead to argue with your customer to get paid anyway.

        So they paid you because they don't want to argue, then kicked you out.

  • +4

    Welcome to contracting… There's the door

  • +6

    Contractors can be fired for any reason including they just don't like you (and they don't have to say what the reason is). That's why they get paid more. You are not an employee and can't expect the rights of an employee. You are annoying them so they are letting you go. Take this as a lesson for your next contracting gig - don't get a bad reputation or you'll find it hard to get another one. You have to do what you're told, keep your head down and be pleasant. A contractor got let go where I was for similar reasons (he made massive fuss about being able to work from home, got medical certificate and bothered the higher ups, ironically just before covid got into full swing and he would have been told to work from home anyway). He pissed off the management and they didn't want to have to deal with his complaints anymore and he was gone within two weeks of starting to get annoying.

  • +7

    However, until today, leader X called recruiter that I did not complete my work properly, and told recruiter to terminate my contract.

    What does your contract say?

    All mine have said they can end the contract at anytime for any reason, as long as they give me the required notice period outlined in the contract. Which is normally between 1-4 weeks notice.

    They can terminate on the spot with no notice period for goss misconduct etc.

    So if they have meet the terms in the contract, then they can let you go without any reason if that is what the contract says.

    About 2 weeks ago we had a deadline to finish, so the senior project manager ask some devs to work and support on Saturday

    The issue I see, is the PM doesn't have the rights to approve your overtime, which is why you did this

    I also asked leader X permission to work on Saturday but got no response

    Why didn't you follow this up and get approval, a phone call or IM? You had been aware you needed their permission to work if you wanted to get paid.

    I sent a lot of email to him and senior project manager who asked me to work on Saturday. After some argument, he finally approved my timesheet.

    Then you made a scene about not being paid until you got paid.

    This is not true and unfair.

    Doesn't really matter as a contractor you can finish up any time for little to no reason.

    You have bitten the hand that feeds you, they no longer require your services. www.seek.com.au is your next stop.

  • +6

    I am an IT contractor consultant, have been for over 12 years.

    OP you have no recourse, you can be let go for any reason.

    Leader X, timesheets, all that is just noise.

  • +4

    I have fired a few contractors before. Not because they made a mistake. It's mainly the SMEs who think they're king shit and have a bad attitude. After a while I just tell HR I'm no longer confident they can do what I needed them to do and just leave it at that. HR may or may not give them a reason.

    Having said that, the hassle of one day's pay just isn't worth the hassle of sacking someone over. It'll cost the project much more to find someone else. So, I'm guessing the way you've dealt with this situation is probably just one of many things.

  • +3

    Tough one. I've been a contractor in the past and you always make sure whomever is paying your invoice is 110% happy.

    For next time, you should have gotten the person who wanted you to work to ask permission from the person paying your invoice. That way any "issues" would be between those two and not you.

  • How does being an IT contractor work anyway, do they have lawyers make a bullet proof deal all contractors have to sign first. Is it basically like being an employee, but without the benefits of being an employee?

    • How does being an IT contractor work anyway, do they have lawyers make a bullet proof deal all contractors have to sign first.

      It's like anything else - you read and understand the terms of the contract before signing so you know what yourself getting into. Contractors generally have a much higher remuneration rate, but that comes at the cost of job security and other employment benefits that permanent full-time employees usually have such as leave and sick pay. If you find it difficult to go for interviews and/or obtaining a job, I wouldn't recommend it.

      • If it pays so much, why did OP not treat the managers who can get him fired like they were royalty. Even McDonald's tells their workers to treat people like they are pals, and teenaged McDonald's workers make what $20 an hour? If the contract says he can be fired at any point then that manager kind of is really like a king.

        • why did OP not treat the managers who can get him fired like they were royalty.

          You mean arse-kissing? That really isn't necessary. Contractors are employed for a specific reason so as long as theyre doing that and they're not rocking the boat too much or being a nuisance, there's really no reason to be fired.

          As to why OP did or didn't do something, you might have to direct that question to him/her!

  • +2

    I think there is definitely more to the story.

  • +2

    Which legal advice I should do right now?

    You are a contractor. They don't have to give a reason to terminate early. They just have to pay you out the required amount of notice as per your contract.

    We have anti bully policy and person to handle bully cases, I think I can send information to this. But not sure if they will solve this as I just worked here 4 months.

    In what way were you bullied or harassed? You've mentioned nothing that constitutes bullying or harassment.
    Here is some study material for you so you don't make somebodies life a misery and a fool of yourself.
    https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/bullying-a...

    Fair work?
    If they have followed the terms of your contract then you haven't a case.

    My employer takes on many contractors simply because we can move them on easily if they aren't a good fit or can't take instructions. We've even moved a few tradies on recently because the Team Leader didn't like their presentation.
    The ones that fit in stay for years.

    PS: You might work on your written skills. They take a bit of work to read.

    Good luck in your next role.

  • +1

    Find something else. You're a mercenary, and a mercenary should never touch (office)politics.

  • +1

    We can all trot out thousands of words here, but the simple reality is that as a contractor you are there at the pleasure of your employer. Subject to any contractual notice periods, you can be terminated "for convenience" at any time.

    Whether this is "fair" or not is something that we could debate based on any numbers of perspectives and opinions, but on this matter it's all over.

    I will say that "additional hours" are always a touchy subject. I've seen it first hand. You absolutely must have an absolute understanding with whoever signs your timesheets/pays your invoices that you will be booking additional hours ahead of time.

    • OP could sell his services himself, write his own contracts that say he can act like an ass but still gets paid if the work is done. He may need to hire a really convincing sales agent to find some really gullible clients though.

  • " After some argument, he finally approved my timesheet" Wow , you do realise that as a contractor your main job is to please your manager. Did you even read your contract to see how little rights you have as a contractor ?

    They pay your salary, why would you work on a weekend without getting their explicit permission ?