The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay $24,000 after it was decided that their dismissal of an employee was unjustified.

The employee worked for the employer prior to, and during, the Covid-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, the Government implemented strict rules around employees receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. The employee refused to get vaccinated.

The employer was not opposed to this decision, but the work that could be completed by an unvaccinated employee was scarce. This is because nearly all of the employer’s clients required on-site workers to be vaccinated.

The employer sent an email to the employee inviting him to a meeting to discuss possible redundancy, and the next steps in the employment relationship. The employee had trouble accessing his work email, and claims to have never received this invite.

On the day of the scheduled meeting, a co-worker of the employee informed him that the employer wanted to see him in his office. The meeting became heated, and concluded with the employer deciding that no work could be offered to the employee. The employee was made redundant.

The Authority had to decide whether the employer had acted as a fair and reasonable employer would have in the circumstances. The employer did not make an adequate attempt to explain the dismissal to the employee, and did not offer the employee a chance to give feedback on the dismissal. This was decided to be a breach of the required employment standard, as the dismissal was undertaken in bad faith.

The employer was ordered to pay $14,000 in unpaid wages and holiday pay, as well as $10,000 as compensation for the hurt and humiliation suffered by the employee as a result of the dismissal.

If there is confusion around the correct process to follow when dismissing an employee, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Litigation team