After being told to leave work by her employer an employee raised a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal. This resulted in a claim to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

The employee had started work in her intended position before being asked to fill in for a colleague in a different role.

After a week, the employee asked about moving back to her intended role with her employer. She was told that the position she had interviewed for was no longer available and he proceeded to tell her that if she did not want to work in the alternative role, she could leave.

The employee sought compensation for hurt, humiliation, and reimbursement of loss wages following her dismissal.

The ERA looked at whether the actions of the employer were what a fair and reasonable employer could do in those circumstances.

The parties verbal account of the agreed terms differed, and there was also confusion because there was no written employment agreement.

Despite asking for it multiple times, her employment agreement was not given to her until the matter came before the Authority.

What was clear was that the employee needed a ‘customer facing’ role for her visa. Based on this evidence, the ERA found her accounts of the facts to be persuasive, having tried to find work that met these requirements after she was dismissed.

It was held that the actions of the employer were not what a fair and reasonable employer could have done in those circumstances. By not following up with his employee or providing her with an employment agreement, he failed to implement a fair procedure.

She received an award for lost wages and compensation of $10,000. The ERA reinforced that the situation could have been avoided if an Employment Agreement was provided, detailing a description of the position, job title, and outlining the agreed wages and hours.

As an employer it is important to clarify these terms of employment to avoid confusion in the future.  

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Alan Knowsley & Brianna Cadwallader