The Employment Relations Authority has rejected a claim of constructive unjustified dismissal from an employee after finding that there were no errors in the employer’s conduct.

The employee raised the personal grievance claim after he was issued a 12-month written warning.

The issue arose after the employee decided to leave work three hours early on a particular Friday. The regular process for leaving early from work was to inform the managing director of this intention, and to apply for leave to do so.

The employee did not apply for leave, and instead informed a less senior co-worker of his intention to leave early.

One of the employee’s roles was to ensure that each of his work sites were safely secured at the end of each workday. Given that he was planning to leave early, he delegated this task to a few of his colleagues.

Over the weekend numerous security issues were reported at the work sites. The fences around one of the worksites had blown over and the keys were left in the front door of the property. It was also reported that material from the worksite had been blown into the neighbouring property.

When the employee returned to the worksite on Monday the managing director spoke to him about the security issues. The employee then informed the managing director that he had left early on the Friday and admitted that he hadn’t applied for leave to do so.

Having received this information, the employer decided that it was appropriate to enter into a disciplinary process with the employee.

The employer set out his concerns in a letter, which also invited the employee to bring a support person with him to a meeting.

At the meeting the employer offered the employee a chance to explain the events and his response to the concerns laid out in the letter.

The employee explained that he did not think he was liable for the security failures as he had informed his colleague that he was leaving early and had delegated the security tasks.

After the meeting the employer decided that a written warning was appropriate for the employee’s failures regarding site security. This warning was to remain in place for 12 months.

The employee resigned shortly after receiving this written warning. He subsequently raised personal grievance claims of both unjustified disadvantage and dismissal.

The Authority decided that the failure by the employee to conduct a security check and the failure to implement a suitable alternative were grounds for a warning to be issued.

It was also decided that these two failures led to the significant security issues experienced by the employer.

This led to the Authority to conclude that the employer was justified in their actions, and therefore did not leave the employee with no option other than to resign, an important factor in unjustified constructive dismissal.

The employee’s claims were dismissed.

If there is confusion around the employee investigation process, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Alan Knowsley and Matthew Binney