The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay $7,000 after finding that the dismissal of two employees was unjustified. The employees raised a personal grievance against the employer after being fired for discussing employment issues with other employees.

The employees were working their normal nine hour shift when they were pulled aside by the employer. The employer accused the employees of complaining about their lack of holiday pay and that other employees were being influenced by these negative discussions. The employer was angry and raised his voice at the employees, ordering them to leave the premises only two hours into their work day.

The employees subsequently brought a claim of unjustified dismissal against the employer and sought compensation, as well as repayment of the wages lost as a result of finishing their work day early.

The Authority firstly had to decide whether the employees were capable of being dismissed, given their employment status. In this situation the employees were employed under casual employment agreements, with no guaranteed hours. The Authority decided that the employees were capable of dismissal because the employer had guaranteed them a work shift which would have normally been nine hours, but this had been stopped two hours in.

The Authority then had to decide whether this dismissal was unjustified. It was decided that the dismissal was unjustified because the employer had not acted as a fair and reasonable employer could have in the situation. Dismissal on the grounds of having discussions about employment conditions with other employees was not deemed to be a justifiable reason. As well as this, the employer followed no dismissal process, and gave no other legitimate reason for the dismissal.

The Authority ordered the employer to pay $7,000 in compensation to the employees, as well as the seven hours of wages they would have made, if not for the dismissal.

If there is confusion regarding employee entitlements or the correct dismissal process, it is wise to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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