The Employment Relations Authority has denied a woman’s personal grievance claim of unjustified dismissal, deciding that she was never actually employed.

The employer purchased the business that the woman worked for. During the process of sale and purchase, the employer contacted a lawyer to get advice about new employment contracts.

The employer sat down with the woman to discuss her continuing employment and the possibility of her taking on extra work. The woman was 16, so any changes to her work schedule had to be approved by her mother.

The employer sent the mother an email requesting confirmation for the extra work, and then sent her a draft employment agreement. The mother replied with various changes she wished to make to the agreement, but the employer declined the changes.

The woman then raised a personal grievance claim of unjustified dismissal with the Authority.

When dismissing an employee, an employer must act fairly and reasonably in all the circumstances. However, in order to be dismissed, a person must first be an employee.

Despite the employer’s lawyer advising them not to make any offers, and there being claimed to be no intention by the employer to offer employment, the Authority decided that there was a clear intention to contract. This meant that there had been an offer of employment by the new employer.

However, the Authority decided that the woman could not have been an employee of the new owner of the business, because her offer of employment had never been accepted.

The woman was only 16 years old, which meant that any offer of employment was conditional on her mother’s acceptance. In this case, the mother did not accept the offer of employment because she wanted a number of changes to be made to the contract.

This meant that there was never an accepted offer of employment, and so the woman was not an employee. The Authority rejected the woman’s claim because she could not have been dismissed.

It is important to be aware of your rights as an employee. If you are confused about these rights, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors