What is a valid reason for a dismissal?

This passage from a Fair Work Commission decision sets out in a very summary form what constitutes a valid reason for dismissal.

“Valid reason

[28] In considering whether a dismissal is unfair, the Commission must consider the matters

specified in s 387, including whether there was a valid reason for dismissal and any other

matters the Commission considers relevant. Section 387 of the Act contemplates that an overall

assessment as to the nature of the dismissal will be undertaken and in so doing, the criteria in

s 387 must, where relevant, be weighed up in totality.

[2023] FWC 975


[29] In respect of whether there was a valid reason for the Applicant’s dismissal, by virtue

of the findings reached at paragraphs [22] and [26], I consider that there was. ‘Valid’ in this

context generally refers to whether there was a sound, defensible or well-founded reason for

the dismissal.34 Such a reason is one that is valid in the sense that it was both sound and


[30] A failure to comply with a lawful and reasonable policy is a breach of the fundamental

term of the contract of employment that obliges employees to comply with the lawful and

reasonable directions of the employer. In this way, a substantial and wilful breach of a policy

will often, if not usually, constitute a ‘valid reason’ for dismissal.35”


Faccin v Santos WA Energy Ltd [2023] FWC 975 delivered 13 June 2023 per Beaumont DP