It is assumed that the right to summarily dismiss an employee for certain forms of misconduct is a fundamental legal right reposed in employers. It is argued that the scope of this right in Australia is too expansive and should be significantly curtailed. In its current form, the right to summarily dismiss employees offends several widely accepted legal and normative maxims and is incompatible with several behavioural norms. While this paper focuses on Australian summary dismissal law, the doctrinal analysis and the reform suggestions advanced in this paper are of relevance to all market economy jurisdictions. Studies of human well-being show that employment, independent of its wealth-creating aspect, is important to well-being. Matters that are central to a person's well-being should not be taken away readily. This moral prescription is given legal recognition by the legal principle of proportionality, which prescribes that there should be proportion between the punishment and harm caused by the wrongdoing. Moreover, it is not the case that a single impertinent act is defining of a person's character or necessarily evinces a predisposition to behave in a like manner in the future.
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