The Employment Relations Authority has upheld an employee’s personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal and awarded $15,000 compensation for racial remarks and unsafe work practices. He also received unpaid wages.

When working conditions for an employee became dangerous his employer failed to provide health and safety measures to prevent harm, and the employee was injured.

In addition to this, the employer made it difficult for the employee to raise his concerns about the unsafe work practices as he often grew angry and made racist remarks towards him when the employee tried to raise the issue.

The employee had also not been provided with a written employment agreement. As a result, the work hours were not certain, causing them to be irregular and unreasonable.

After resigning the employee made a complaint claiming his resignation was a constructive dismissal and was unjustified.

The ERA held that employer did not take reasonable and practical steps to ensure the employee’s safety and these breaches caused the employee to resign.

The lack of an employment agreement led to both a breach of a statutory requirement and a breach of the employer’s duty.

The employer was ordered to pay:

  • $5,484 of lost wages;
  • $15,000 in compensation;
  • $1,462 reimbursement of unpaid wages;
  • $663 holiday pay;
  • A penalty of $3000 ($2,250 going to the employee and the balance to the Crown); and
  • The sum of $1,271 for costs and reimbursement of personal grievance filing fee.

As an employer not only do you need to ensure clear health and safety measures are in place, but also that these are being practiced daily.

It is also important to provide a written employment agreement before the employee has started work. This will help to clarify the terms of employment, including what hours the employee will work and the wages that will be paid, removing any confusion moving forward.

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 & Brianna Cadwallader