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An employee can’t automatically terminate an employment contract by simply rejecting it and walking away from the job – and there can be costly consequences for them if they do.

In a recent case, a highly successful finance broker entered an employment contract for a two-year term. Some months later, in breach of the contract, he began working for a competing company.

His employer successfully obtained a court order to stop him from working for the opposition and then placed him on paid leave while they tried to sort things out. In doing so, the employer elected to continue the finance broker’s employment in accordance with the terms of his contract.

Shortly before the court order expired, the employer directed the employee to return to work. When he didn’t do so, the employer treated this as a final failure to observe the terms of the employment contract and took the case to court seeking compensation.

The employer’s claim was based on a clause in the contract which provided a way the amount of compensation could be calculated if the contract was terminated by the employee’s repudiation of it.

In finding that the employment contract was still in place, and the employer was ready, willing and able to perform its part of the bargain, the court upheld the employer’s claim and ordered the former employee to pay a sum of over $500,000 in addition to the legal costs which had been incurred by the employer in pursuing the case.

In a recent case, a man was refused permission to leave Australia to visit his former wife, the mother of his children, who was dying and had only a few weeks to live.

Where a person owes tax and the tax office believes on reasonable grounds that it is desirable to ensure they don’t leave the country without paying, or making satisfactory arrangements for payment, it may issue a departure prohibition order preventing them from leaving Australia.

There are restrictions on that power. Before a prohibition order can be issued, the tax office must have assessed a person for tax – mere suspicion that there might be an unassessed tax liability is not enough.

Taxpayers can apply to the courts to have a departure prohibition order set aside. As an alternative, they might ask the tax office to issue them with a departure authorisation certificate.

Before issuing any such authorisation, the tax office can require them to provide security for the payment of tax.

The law says that if a taxpayer is unable to give security to the satisfaction of the tax office, the tax office can still allow the person to leave Australia on humanitarian grounds.

In the case of the man wanting to visit his former wife, the tax office argued that if it believed the person could provide security but had not done so, as here, it did not have the power to allow them to leave the country on humanitarian grounds.