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The National Retail Association (NRA) has backed the proposed changes to the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, introduced by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell.  

Carnell outlined 15 recommendations to the code to clarify what can often be a confusing system, with a key recommendation an establishment of a new framework within the code to assist employers with determining whether a dismissal is fair or not. 

"The Small Business Fair Dismissal Code in its current form is not working in the way it was originally intended," Carnell said. 

"Too many small businesses are being pulled into unfair dismissal hearings which are costly and impact productivity." 

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said the current Code is complex, difficult to understand and highly ambiguous in parts.

"Small business owners work long hours, face genuine financial risk and almost all operate with the intention of following the law.

"However, the current Small Business Fair Dismissal Code is hard to navigate for someone without a legal qualification and its ambiguous nature leaves some parts open to wide interpretation.

"The NRA supports a more streamlined set of laws that doesn’t make dismissing someone easier, but provides greater clarity over the process involved.

"Hiring and retaining good staff members is something that every small business places a premium on and often the decision to let an employee go is the last resort.

"A small business owner doesn’t have the financial war chest to engage in costly legal action, nor do they have support structures such as HR departments on in-house lawyers that big business has access to.

"A more simplified set of laws would result in fewer unfair dismissal applications to the Fair Work Commission, which is in the interests of small business owners and employees alike," she said. 

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