Australia: Sacking Work From Home lawyer for seven hours of online surfing ruled unfair

The Australian Financial Review writes

A remote working lawyer was unfairly fired for wasting hours of work time trawling music, books, comic and PlayStation websites in part because his employer failed to appreciate the mix of work and the personal in “the modern digitally connected era”, the workplace umpire has ruled.

The Fair Work Commission held that while Sydney intellectual property law firm Chrysiliou IP had a valid reason to dismiss senior patent and trademark lawyer William Ellis, his personal browsing history was not serious enough to justify immediate dismissal without notice.

The ruling handed down this week follows a series of recent decisions about the productivity costs of working in and away from the office.

Chrysiliou discovered Mr Ellis, who it had banned from working from home due to performance concerns, had been surfing personal websites for more than seven hours over four days – not counting lunch breaks.

The activity contrasted with Mr Ellis’ excuse that he had been too busy to respond to a longstanding and valued client.

Read the full report