An employee brought personal grievance claims of both unjustified dismissal and unjustified disadvantage to the Employment Relations Authority after he was fired by his employer over text.

The Authority accepted that he was employed as a permanent, full-time employee, but the employee had never been given a copy of his signed employment agreement.

The employee did not show up to work one morning, as a close family member had been rushed to hospital. The employee had advised a work colleague to inform his boss of his absence. After learning that the employee would not be attending work, the employee’s boss texted him, saying he had “had enough” of him and the employee was subsequently fired.

The employer had also reduced the employee’s pay several times during his employment without providing justification or seeking approval from the employee.

The Authority held that, in dismissing the employee, the employer had not acted as a fair and reasonable employer could have in the circumstances. There was nothing to justify firing the employee over text, especially without an explanation or seeking further information. The Authority found that the employee was therefore unjustifiably dismissed.

The Authority found that the employee had also been unjustifiably disadvantaged during his employment because the employer had reduced the employee’s pay several times without consulting him. The employee’s pay was a fundamental term of his employment agreement meaning his approval was needed.

The Authority accepted that there had been an agreed rate of pay in the employee’s contract, despite no physical contract being provided. The employer gave no justification for these reductions in wage payments leading the Authority to find an unjustified disadvantage towards the employee.

The Authority ordered the employer to pay $10,000 as compensation for hurt and humiliation, as well as $18,000 in unpaid wages, as a result of the unilateral alteration of the employment contract.

There is a clear and important process which must be followed when dismissing an employee. If you are unsure of your rights and obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with knowledge in the area.


Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors