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COML 5015 Employment Law F

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Case Study

Ed owns “Twiggy’s Top Knots”, a dog grooming business which has branches in Norwood, Adelaide and Mawson Lakes. Ed employs Hamish who he has known from the SA poodle club as an experienced trimmer.  Hamish is one of 25 Employee’s working 5 days a week for $58,000pa.

Hamish is employed under a common law contract.

For nine months things go well, however, soon Hamish becomes disenchanted with the role, he also has some problems at home and starts to ‘take it out’ on the dogs. When Ed is not around Hamish yells at the dogs, some are so traumatised that they are shaking when their owners pick them up.

One day Ed sees Hamish yelling at a puppy. On other occasions he has found a puppy loose in the back of the shop (it could have escaped). Hamish is also taking shortcuts with the grooming of the dogs (eg by taking these shortcuts the dogs coats are cut much shorter than they should be). Ed verbally tells Hamish to be more careful. Hamish agrees to.

The next week Ed sees Hamish yelling at a puppy again, he tells him to be more careful. Ed also verbally tells Hamish that he does not want any yelling at the dogs and reminds Hamish not to take shortcuts and to keep the dogs secure.

When the dog owners complain about their dogs hair being cut too short Hamish blames Ed. Hamish says things to customers like “it is because we have so many dogs coming through it is like a production line here, it is all about profit here”. He has made similar comments to his friends at the poodle club.

Ed begins to be really concerned about how rough (yelling) Hamish is being with the dogs. He has seen dogs loose in the yard 3 times now. Some customers are complaining about the ‘short’ haircuts their dogs are getting. Ed also hears rumours about what Hamish is saying about his business.

Answer the following questions: 

On what basis might Ed be able to say Hamish has breached his employment obligations (duties). Identify relevant case law.  

Give Ed advice about what actions he should take to manage Hamish’s performance at work. Consider, in particular what should be considered to prepare for a termination of Hamish’s employment. Explain why care must be taken at each step, including the process of termination. Apply the legislation and include case law.

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