An employee informally applied for annual leave despite his employment agreement requiring leave applications to be submitted in writing. The employee’s request for leave was denied, and the employee was warned that if he did not turn up for work that there would be no work for him on his return. After taking the day of unauthorised leave, the employee was forced to resign after his employer refused to give him work.

The Employment Relations Authority upheld the employee’s personal grievance claim for unjustified constructive dismissal.

The ERA noted that the employee’s application for leave was acceptable as the employee had previously applied for annual leave on an informal basis without any challenge from the employer.

Employers are entitled to decline a leave request however, the ERA held that the employer failed to act as a fair and reasonable employer could in all of the circumstances by depriving the employee of work.

The ERA found that the employee was constructively dismissed as the employer’s actions had the effect of severing the employment relationship which was reasonably foreseeable in the circumstances.

The ERA awarded the employee over $5,500 for lost wages plus $7,000 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to feelings.

In these circumstances, the employer should have undertaken a proper disciplinary process.