The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay an employee over $21,000 after unjustifiably dismissing him.

The employee asked the employer for a week of leave and was told that his request was granted. The employee reminded the employer at a social function of his upcoming period of leave, and was again told that it was okay.

The employee went on leave, and upon his return received a message stating that his employment was terminated.

The employer claimed that the employee did not make an official request for leave, so when he left and could not be contacted he had abandoned his employment.

The employer also accused the employee of working for another employer during his time away.

The Authority determined that the evidence showed that the employee was never told to make a formal application for leave, and had previously had requests informally approved.

It was also clear that the employer did not make reasonable attempts to contact the employee while he was away to determine if he had abandoned his employment.

Additionally, there was no evidence to suggest that the employee had worked for another employer during his absence.

This meant that ending the employee’s employment was not a conclusion that a fair and reasonable employer could have arrived at.

The Authority held that the employee was unjustifiably dismissed and ordered the employer to pay the employee $7,365 in lost wages, $1,800 holiday pay, and $12,000 in compensation.

It is important that employers have proper processes in place when it comes to employees applying for and going on leave. Failure to manage this process effectively may result in disagreements, and potentially expensive grievances.

If there are concerns about the leave process in your workplace, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced 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