The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay $36,000 after finding that they had unjustifiably dismissed two employees, and had unjustifiably disadvantaged another. All three employees brought personal grievance claims to the Authority after their respective employments ceased.

The first employee brought his claim to the Authority after he was informed through a text message that he was going to be made redundant. The employer failed to implement a fair consultation process and did not ask for the employee’s feedback in regard to the redundancy proposal.

The Authority decided that this failure to seek feedback or implement a proper process amounted to an unjustified disadvantage, as the employee was entitled to a fair process.

The second employee was informed in person that he was no longer required by the employer. The employer offered no further information about the reasons for redundancy and failed to consult with the employee regarding alternative options.

The Authority decided that this constituted an unjustified dismissal, as the employer had not acted as a reasonable employer would have in the given scenario.

The final employee was asked not to return to work after he asked one of his colleagues to inform the employer that he could not come into work for a day, due to family issues. After the employee failed to reply to numerous text messages from the employer over the course of four days, the employer officially dismissed the employee.

The Authority decided that this was another instance of unjustified dismissal due to the lack of willingness to compromise by the employer. This, coupled with the fact that the employee only missed one day of work was enough to lead the Authority to the conclusion that the employer had not acted reasonably in the circumstance, and that the dismissal was therefore unjustified.

The Authority ordered the employer to pay $6,000 to the first employee as compensation for hurt and humiliation, $12,400 in compensation and lost wages to the second employee, and $10,800 to the third employee in compensation and lost wages. The employer was also ordered to pay a penalty of $8,000, with $6,500 to be paid to the Crown, and $1,500 to be paid to the second employee.

If there is confusion around the proper dismissal process, it is wise to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Matthew Binnie

Employment Law team