Employer Dismissed Me on The Grounds of Unsatisfactory Work Performance

I used to work with one of the Big 4 Banks as an full-time employee. I had just finished 5 months and was under probation when they terminated me on the grounds of unsatisfactory work performance.

I don't agree with this justification as everything was fine until few weeks ago when I started expressing my inability to work excessive overtime as it was impacting my mental and physical health as well as family life. The manager was micro manager and would only perceive the things through his own lenses. I started questioning this attitude and negative feedback given by the manager every time I performed some task. The manager thinks that working overtime is required for this job and I am not culturally fit for this role. But the reason for my termination has been marked as 'performance not meeting the expectations'.

I don't think this is fair to claim that an employee is poor performer because that person is unable to work overtime almost regularly and doesn't get along well with the manager.

I am happy to leave the company but not on allegations of poor performance. I feel having the dismissal due to poor performance will impact finding my next role and want to get rid of that on my termination letter. I have 14+ years of experience in this industry and similar roles and have had successful career so far with many rewards and recognitions up my sleeve. Also in this role, I have gained good trust and reputation from the other stakeholders but my line manager.

Anyways I feel this is the unfair dismissal and want to pursue this matter. What are my options? I looked up for Fair Work policy on unfair dismissal and they say you must complete 6 months to lodge the complaint of unfair dismissal.


    • +112 votes

      There's no unfair dismissal complaints for someone on probation, or employed less than 6 months.
      There's no need for warnings, that's what probation is sadly.

      • Correct - no protection for unfair dismissal (https://www.fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/templates-and-g...). You could argue for unlawful termination, but you'd lose (since there appears to be no basis for a valid claim there). Constructive dismissal is also an option - but again doesn't seem useful in this context.

        In short - you have no case.

        • what's probation?

          • @queer dog geyfrog: Try this: https://lmgtfy.app/?q=workplace+probation&iie=1

            In a workplace setting, probation (or probationary period) is a status given to new employees of a company or business or new members of organizations, such as churches, associations, clubs or orders. It is widely termed as the Probation Period of an employee. This status allows a supervisor or other company manager to evaluate closely the progress and skills of the newly hired worker, determine appropriate assignments, and monitor other aspects of the employee such as honesty, reliability, and interactions with co-workers, supervisors or customers.

        • OP, I don't know how many of these upvoted the 'no case' comments had experience in this space. Go to talk to a lawyer, they work on a no win no fee basis, you have nothing to loss. You never know.

          • @AllWins: "no win, no fee"

            One lady I know, used one of those.

            If she did everything the lawyers told her, if it had to be completely sorted in court, and it lost, she didn't have to pay for certain lawyers appearing.

            But there are heaps of other fees to pay.

            Administration, having senior partners "review" your case, getting a barrister to appear in court, fees for court time and much more.

            Then there were tricks in the contract, like if the solicitors said not to accept the first offered deal, another fee gets added.

            Too many traps to list.

            Note step 1 of the process asked her to list her own assets, before the lawyers took her on.

            • @foundit: sure, but still noting to lose by asking… you know what you are going to get yourself into… you can walk away before committment, better than walking away just now….

          • @AllWins: Except you have to pay the legal fees of the other side!

          • @AllWins: To be able to win, the company must have done something wrong. I literally listed the laws that could theoretically be applicable here - and none of them are applicable. Hence - "you have no case".

            It might not be fair. You might not like it. There may be severe injustice. And still - "you have no case".

  • +264 votes

    You're not going to be sharing a termination letter with any future employer.
    Best thing to do is tell new employers you left the role during probation as it wasn't a good fit for you. They wanted large amounts of overtime on an ongoing basis and you had no interest in working like that. Probation is a two way street. You're assessing them as much as they are you.

    Just move the conversation on about why you're a good fit for the new role.

    • +53 votes

      Although I wouldn't tell the new company that it's because of the overtime. Even if they are not making staff do overtime, it still sounds like you're complaining about the workload.

      • I'll tend to agree. Bringing negative things up during a job interview is generally not a great ideal.
        Focus on the positives.

        • what should one say when asked the details?

          • @queer dog geyfrog: That it was a toxic work environment and a lot of the staff proceeded to cut corners nefariously I dunno make up some bullshit, fake it till you make it buddy.

          • @queer dog geyfrog: Just wasn't the right fit, people won't query the details.

            • @AlanHB: There is smack talk and smack talk. You can convey that theire were issues with the workplace without trashingg the company. Do it a little diplomatically.

              "I've been fourteen years in the industry and have worked for lots of managers with no problem, but I found X's management style very difficult. In the end we both agreed I'd be happier working for someone else."

              In the unlikely event you are asked to elaborate you can say something like "Well he's bit of a micromanager. I take responsibility for my results so I really don't need to be watched every minute. Also he expected everyone below him to work longer hours than him, which is OK except he's a workaholic." Adapt phrasing to your own manner of speaking.

      • Agree, I would just say the role wasn't as per my expectation, so we both decided to part our ways. But then be ready to answer, what was your expectation and what went wrong.

      • Did they pay you for the overtime or was it the lovely "reasonable overtime" clause? Paid overtime is a gold mine and should not be dropped like that. So many companies out there expect you to work for free above your usual hours.

        • probably unpaid and doing like two hours or more extra for free, otherwise why would op complain?

    • What if they go ahead, perform background/reference check and discover that I didn't disclose the true story?? is that possible?

      • I didn't disclose the true story?

        Applicants can avoid this by not lying on the application.

      • Just dont list the job on your cv. You have the perfect cover story with covid when asked about an employment gap. Sounds like they were using the shit job market as leverage to try and get unpaid overtime from you which didn’t work so they terminated you.

        • I don't recommend that. Gaps in work history stand out. At the very least put it as a career break etc.

          • @apsilon: That’s why I said he’s got a good cover story. I know quite a few who have been let go in the past 7 months, it happens. Better to say you were cut due to the pandemic than to admit you were let go because of performance issues.

        • Just dont list the job on your cv.

          Depending on your job function, it's getting more difficult to get away with this (especially in financial services). Some jobs have licensing requirements, where a short stint at another firm will show up in a background check. Other jobs have a pretty tight-knit community, where word spreads about who's working (or isn't working) where.

          Probably need to make a judgement call about whether you can get away with it.

          • @salmon123: Def a hard call. Banks are big places and I have no idea what the OP does or their profile. 14 years experience is a lot of time however if they can get shitcanned by a snotty nosed manager hopefully they don’t have the seniority to be too high profile in the industry.

            • @Icecold5000: I work in IT industry.. 14 years is in the IT industry, across various companies including this bank lately.

              • @funduguy4u: Maybe it’s better if you sit this one out and just focus on getting your next role. Yes it’s unfair but we are in the middle of a recession which could turn into a depression so your energy may be better off being spent else where.

                Given the recent moral track record of banks selling worthless insurance, defrauding clients, money laundering for child porn makers and terrorists it’s not a sector that is known for fairness. Hopefully in time you’ll forget this.

        • +13 votes

          Do NOT leave a role off your CV.
          Lying on an application is usually grounds for instant dismissal if they find out. You don't know who has who as a friend.
          Just say you worked there and left during probation as it wasn't a good fit for both parties.
          Don't lie, but don't over complicate.

          • @timps: He might not get a job in the first place if he discloses. Recruiters are looking for a reason not to hire because of the market. The economy is contracting fast. If it’s a choice between a job or jobseeker I’d choose the job.

          • @timps: Neglecting to mention isn't lying. I've got tonnes of jobs that I don't list because they're irrelevant.

            • @Zephyrus: Yep, absolutely @Zephyrus, but the comment I replied to said to leave it off and COVID was the perfect way to avoid a gap. An irrelevant role is one thing. What you were doing for the last 5 months has two choices.
              Either you worked there and left, or you lie about it.

          • @timps:

            Do NOT leave a role off your CV.

            Uh oh. I had a ton of short term jobs that were either temporary or I moved on quickly. I didn't want to leave them on my resume because it would just be more things I need to explain and take up valuable space. Recruiters don't like to read, so I assumed leaving it off was simpler.

            They were so long ago that getting referees for them will be hard.

        • That's not entirely true, I am not sure what industry OP is working in, but if you are working in IT, working beyond your normal working hours is expected by default. Plus in the time of COVID when jobs are sparse, I would definitely not complain about working more hours than usual. My main concern would be to keep my job intact, no matter what.

          • @dharmesht: It might be expected, but if it isn't in your enterprise agreement or employment contract then it's not legal.

            Whether you want to complain or seek compensation is another matter. It rarely works out better than just moving on.

            • @Tambani: Agreed, it always boil down to, whether you want to do exactly as said in agreement or you want to move ahead by working harder. There's no right or wrong. But yes, better to move on than fighting against big companies.

          • @dharmesht: Varies by position and contract terms, but working beyond normal working hours AND BEING PAID FOR IT is expected by default. Working beyond normal working hours for free is not.

            • @jatyap: if you're on a salary it's unlikely you will get paid overtime.

              • @lostn: Like I said, it will vary depending on terms of contract. Most companies, especially the more successful ones, still pay overtime to employees below mid-high management. They are successful for a reason. They realize that burning out employees without reasonable compensation will just cause productivity to drop.

                Higher pay grades - the overtime is implicit but it is rare that managers are forced to work overtime 100% of the time. One of the people who trained me for management taught me that, "asking for overtime every now and then is normal, but if you have to do it most of the time, something's wrong."

          • @dharmesht: Have to agree with Dharmesh. If you're part of a project, and decide to throw a hissy fit, you'd be replaced, placed on the bench. Then asked to work on proposals and if there's nothing left to do, bye bye, thanks for your service. Here's some severance pay, but hand in your resignation and sign this form. If you decide to sue, go ahead…your reputation is gone by then. People in the industry talk. If you want your job, get in line because another guy out there who is desperate will take the job that you have for less pay.

      • Just dont list them as a reference.

      • +2 votes

        Employers are very limited in what they can actually say in a reference check. I wouldn't worry about it.

      • Reference checks are not that stringent. You can just ask somebody who you did have a good working relationship to provide that.

      • You wouldn't use this job as a reference.

    • This is the best and honest answer.

  • +25 votes

    Maybe because you didn't use paragraphs.

  • Big 4 Banks and under probation

    This wont go well even if you complain to ombudsman.

    They can terminate you with any reason under probation and so do you can, just give a day or a week of notice.

    They did the right thing as you will not survive in the business with this kind of manager, so it will be better for you to move on.

    • sorry replied to wrong person

    • Can't agree more. I would have resigned anyway in the near future but can't accept this allegation of poor performance.

      • so is it "poor performance" or performance not meeting "their" expectation? seems different things to me

      • If you were FTE it’s very difficult for your manager to get rid of you at most big banks.

        They would have had to at-least talk to hr, a co worker, their manager and maybe their managers manager. So it’s unlikely just to be your manager who has a problem.

        The FSU has pull at the banks, I know so many underperforming FTE maintained due to the union. Your best bet would have been to be a member of the union and take it to them.

    • I started questioning this attitude and negative feedback given by the manager everytime I performed some task.

      He admits that there was already negative feedback provided by the employer (whether he agrees with it or not). It sounds justified to me.

      Sometimes you just have to take the feedback with a grin and change how you do things (further clarification, I've had to fire a manager under me because he wouldn't take feedback. Everything I brought up he would just bring up an excuse for why it happened and got very defensive. All I wanted was for him to acknowledge it and that it wouldn't happen again).

      Also during probation they don't always have to give the opportunity to improve. The previous feedback and not having changed can often be enough.

      • It may have been justified, hard to tell from a small snippet of 5 months worth of work. HR are very risk adverse so playing hardball may get the OP somewhere especially if he isn't after his job back or a payout.

      • Thanks for the feedback.

        Here I think other way and that demonstrates the poor mentality where the manager gets defensive when they are given the feedback. Every person has their own way of working or style and you got to be open minded to accept the diversity. You hire people not to follow the instructions and feedback without asking why and make the boss looks good no matter what, even at the cost of losing the self identity. I didn't bring up any excuse or been defensive, I just wanted to know why he thinks that way and what will happen if I do the other way? Is asking questions/ challenging status quo / being creative and different considered wrong when you are still achieving your desired outcome but in a different way?

        • What are some examples of challenging the status quo etc? This would help us provide an objective opinion of the dynamics in play.

        • +16 votes

          At the end of the day, the boss is the boss. If they want you to do it their way even though your way may be better/more efficient, etc, then you do it their way (aside from OH&S and illegal things of course).

          Sounds like you kept challenging your boss in a way they didn't like so got rid of you. Maybe you don't do it constructively or maybe they just don't like being told what to do/challenged, or both.

          I would certainly keep my head down in a new role at least until I got a better feel for my colleagues and boss (and of course til the probation period was over) and work out the best ways to approach them.

          You may have been right, but you are now unemployed.

        • depends entirely on what you are challenging in the status quo. If for example it was the need to be at your desk during work hours and you wanted to work from a cafe on your laptop and still be as productive then yes it would probably get you slapped down regardless that the outcome was the same. You need to provide more information.

    • In the first six months, it is a moot point - since there is no unfair dismissal protection. Unless it was an unlawful termination (e.g. racism) - then the OP won't win. It is a waste of time fighting it.

  • Isn't it assumed you will get treated like crap, with rubbish pay and horrific hours working at the big 4?

    • The best way to get a promotion is to show them all your tricks for money laundering. Those that can master it may get fast-tracked to the CFO.

  • Try the public sector. You may find their adherence to contracted hours, and flexibility with those hours, refreshing compared to working for a big 4 bank. I agree that you shouldn't have to put up with any forced overtime, you devote your life to a company years at a time and you have an arrangement with them, you should be able to count on your work life reflecting that arrangement. Unless you want to make big money or something, or it's work that only you can do like a lawyer who is the only one working on a case, then it's fine to expect no forced overtime and you should find somewhere to work that offers that.

    • Whilst I will always advocate for people to try working for the public sector, blanket advice that public sector workplaces adhere to contracted hours, flexibility etc is a little troublesome to me. Maybe it depends on the State, Department and type of role, but in every government job I've worked there is unpaid (technically salaried) and expected overtime, time crunch, lack of flexibility etc. Just like the private sector, public is mixed and it depends on the type of work you're doing.

      The one thing public has over private is job security once you get that type of role. But even then a lot is fixed term now and probation rules still apply.

      Just thought I'd add my two cents as it drives me insane when the general public whinge that public servants have a cushy role. Not always.

      • I wouldn’t call working only in the stated hours to be cushy.

      • APS has flexibility, EL has the expected unpaid overtime

        • But there's a big gap between aps and el pay scale though.

          • @tessel: Exactly - they're two different things - not all public service jobs are cushy. Only the lower level ones

            • @Quantumcat: Now, that I will say depends. Would love to pick your brain but I assure you "low" positions that i know of do considerable more work than high level. Obviously can't go into detail but I would say depends on the department. One I'm thinking of has an inverse relationship. Work is all done at the bottom.

              • @tessel: That's probably true, but they get paid less. ELs usually management. Though I know at least 2 EL1s that have managed to stay in a technical role (lucky)

        • Yes, I agree. I used to work in the APS. I would say that APS6 is generally a good place to be, it'd be the equivalent of what most would consider to be "senior analyst" or a similar title in industry. It's a good sweet-spot in terms of pay and actual work put in. It doesn't mean that no work is done, just that the workplace tends to be more equitable thhan some others.

          In the EL, I agree with you, but it seems to flip a bit once we get into SES levels.

          • @p1 ama: EL1 is the sweet spot, imo.
            I've done the EL2 thing too and it's death by meetings. APS6 you have little control.
            EL1 you get enough challenge, pay and flexibility without having to always be in the office to suck up to the SES.

    • " You may find their adherence to contracted hours, and flexibility with those hours, refreshing compared to working for a big 4 bank."

      I worked in Canberra for 30 years, never got paid overtime in all that time and in some jobs worked regular 70 hour weeks. Start and finish times, though, were pretty flexible.

      A lot depends on what and where you're working, but it's not true that the public sector is always easier.

  • +11 votes

    That's what you get when you work for banks or large corporations.. I couldn't bloody stand it. Capitalism sucks. Self employed with full control over how and when I work, and wouldn't have it any other way. Money is not everything in life.

    • If I ever get the skill set I’d go contract. Being permanent doesn’t protect you ever if they want you out so you may as well go for the higher rate without the hours. Corporates and banks are going to be on cost cutting mode with the drop in revenues for the next 24 months.

    • Capitalism sucks.

      Tell us more about how hard life is with fully stocked supermarket shelves, 24/7 plumbers to fix your hot water, and all the medical innovations that keep you healthy.

      I also find it astounding that you value having "full control of how and when you work" yet you criticise the only economic system that grants you that right.

  • Recruiters understand you won't always have a great employer. Your current boss probably already has a reputation in the industry, and theres a chance you'll get accolades for lasting as long as you did working for them.

    And even though can mention you worked there, you can always say that it wasn't worth you getting a reference from them. You've got plenty of great experience from your years that will carry you over.
    As you said, you had poor performance through their lense. How you perceive your performance is much more important in getting to the workplace and environment you want to be in.
    I've been through a similar thing, and it became my mission to get a better job and employer as soon as possible.

    You can do it.

  • Your options are limited. If you feel like they have breached your employment contract you could waste your money on a lawyer. Otherwise you could seek a more detailed response from HR who may or may not provide one.

    It costs a lot of money to hire someone new so it's unlikely it was just your manager who shared the view of you leading to the decision to dismiss you. Either that or their view was very strong and swayed others.

    What was your expectation for hours each week compared to the weekly hours they wanted?

    • At one occasion, I have had worked 4 days and nights at a stretch. I just stated to my manager that this is not sustainable for me giving example of how it impacted my body clock and I can't commit I will be able to do it again like this.

      • Doesn't sound like much work life balance. If that is their expectation then maybe they did you a favour.

      • From when to when? What hours?

        Finance is a brutal industry. My advice is take this as a godsend and get as far away from finance as you can.